Having a home practice can be a beautiful thing. However, we all know how luring of a beast procrastination can be. For years I was a victim of time wasters in my yoga practice. Once you cut these seven demons out of your yoga and your life your peace of mind will be enhanced.
Cell Phone Interruptions
Every one of us has been affected by the information age. We get to listen to cool music while we practice, find the fastest route to new studios, and read yoga blogs at all times of the day. Yoga is the time to unplug. In yoga classes, I’ve seen others around me using their phones as we practice. If you can’t block out ninety minutes a day without your phone, you’ve compromised the power of yoga. Excuses to stop do not come as easy when your phone is on airplane mode. Distractions slip away when you care about your present task. Work issues, your kids, or significant others phone call can wait ninety minutes. Planning is crucial to beat distractions and get on the mat more.
Do you think the greatest in any discipline have their phones on while they are practicing their art? Did Iyengar read the newspaper while practicing? The massive proliferation of their sequences stems from passion and a distraction-free environment. A distraction from technology is not limited to just phone calls or texting. We compromise our practice as we change the music too much, turn off forgotten alarms and check our form in yoga videos. Don’t EVER compromise your practice for technology. If we approach yoga right, our fear and attachments should burn away.
Constant phone interruptions are the largest time waster, not just in yoga but also in life. I check my text messages twice a day and use a mp3 player for music. My relationships are deeper because all interaction happens in person, creative endeavors go much faster, and yoga makes much more sense when I can stay present throughout the day.
Spouses, Kids, Pets, Visitors
This time waster may be the largest, depending on your household control. If you have young children then it’s only natural to be interrupted. However, clear communication and parenting skills can bring these interruptions down to zero.
Help your children find passions. If they can do something in those ninety minutes, then you’re set. Most parents will just throw blue lights at their kids and make them zombies, but that is a cop out for their emotional journey. It takes solitude, thought, and patience to develop. Our responsibility is to raise our children. Raise is a verb, and it is not a passive process. In the end the choice to be “raised” will be theirs. However, we can show them the door. Too much technology can hamper their confidence. Later on down the road you want your children to have passions outside of technology. Reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the Gita, and the Dhammanapada when I was only thirteen years old started my passion for yoga.
Explore different options, and eventually, something will stick with them. Passions may not last forever but a few months of peace is worth it. Establish a quiet time with your spouse and children where everyone explores their passions.
If you’re being interrupted in an informal practice group scenario, you’ll need different tactics. When you’re interrupted, always stand up quickly. This technique has been my best tactic to fend off my roommates from disturbing me. I signal to them that I can’t multi-task and remove myself out of a passive yoga position. Never ask how they are doing, or anything to initiate conversation. Ask what they need, and if it isn’t an absolute emergency bring the conversation to a close. The best way to do this is to say,
“One more thing before you go, there is something I need to tell (or show) you.”
We say this line anyway when we end a conversation. It will trigger in the other persons mind that the conversation will soon conclude. Think of anything to say and give them the boot. Arranging specific times to hang out or do things with your friends, family, or roommates is a good way to prevent this problem. The best way to reduce interruptions is not to interrupt and waste others time. Think about it, if we distract each other the door is open for others to distract us. I didn’t realize I had been doing this at home for years. My family would work full-time jobs, and in their few hours of peace, I would barrage them with dumb stuff that could have waited until dinner. In return, they would disturb me at any time and not recognize I was in a flow state or doing something important. There was no malicious intent on any side. However, it takes knowledge of what’s happening to end it.
I love my little Boston Terrier, Jaxon. However, when I am practicing yoga I put him in my room on my bed. He has a tendency to see me moving and want to play, then get depressed when I shrug him off and lay on my mat. Dogs sleep 16-21 hours a day; don’t feel bad about giving them more sleep time. My solution has always been to get my dog tired for an hour by walking him when I wake up at 4 am, and start my practice at 5 am when he crashes. These visitors are the same as above, if you treat them right, and give them time and respect, they will respect you in return.
At some point in our yoga career crisis will occur. If your phone is off, then you won’t have to know it’s happening. However if it happens before practice, or you’re informed by a house member then you’re stuck in a dilemma. As soon as you hear the problem, you first have to ask yourself,
“Is there anything I can do right now to fix this?”
If the answer is no, then it’s time to put the blinders on and return to practice. Some problems are more complicated. Here are some strategies I have used to get back to my yoga practice in 5-20 minutes after a big problem happens. First, stop and think before acting on any decision. Scourge over the facts such as the who, why, how, when, what, and where’s. After this, if the problem seems huge, cut the practice short. If your mind is still foggy, then get a pad of paper. Write down exactly what happened, and list the facts, your feelings, and possible solutions. If there are no actionable steps, then get back to practice. With emergencies always remember: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. They will never stop coming. However, you can always improve at dealing with the situations.
The big P word! This one can kill the Cancers, Pisces, and other dreamers of the world. I have too many passions that cause procrastination. I used to do a few poses, then start to read books, then maybe or maybe not start practicing again. The best solution I have found is to find your real purpose in yoga, set goals, and to visualize the moves you are going to kill that day.
- Socializing and Idle Conversation
I have found this to be more burdensome at yoga studios than anywhere else. While at a studio remember your purpose, and what relationships you’re looking for in your life. Be polite and end any interaction that doesn’t fulfill your needs. After so many classes I get stopped by a well-meaning practitioner who wants to talk. The problem is we talk about nothing related to yoga, and get lost on a foray of other time wasting topics. I am well read and can talk about anything. However, that doesn’t mean I need to discuss everything. Have a knowledge-based approach and always think WIN-WIN. With some people, I will spend an hour talking after every yoga class because we have mutual information to share.
Just the other day I got turned on to a new book and meditation techniques by a fellow student. By spreading knowledge you can create beautiful interactions, and this website will grow by word of mouth in those types of conversations. However, that is not an excuse for an idle conversation to lead you away from peace of mind. Before or after yoga I am in a unique mindset. Back bends, feet behind my head, yin yoga, and pranayama make my mind hyper-suggestible. I am so open, and I don’t want any perverse jokes, fear-based news stories, or personal problems in my brain. Those topics are for outside the shala in an interaction of friendship.
My team and I have different schedules, and sometimes they pop in while I am in my yoga, meditation, or pranayama practice. They have an issue they want to resolve and get out of the way for their peace of mind. If a crucial decision takes under two minutes, resolve the issue. That technique applies to spouses who want to discuss a problem, or an employee resolving an issue. Anything over two minutes is too much, and the individual should be able to move their mind forward for the allotted period of your practice. Make your meetings more efficient by scheduling them. Proper planning should reduce the frequency of this time waster.
Indecision and Delay
Indecision is the strongest time waster for those new to a yoga practice. We sit and wait until the last minute to decide to go to class or wait until the last minute to practice. By delaying and not doing that sun salutation, our percentage of practicing that day goes down. Distractions, a drop of energy, and crisis are possible events that keep us off that mat.
If I am unsure about practicing yoga or any decision I set a timer for two minutes. Relax, close your eyes, and shut everything off. The answer will come. Our subconscious will connect to our needs and surprise us with the right answer. So many times I skip my practice and felt great about it, because I realized my sleep, diet, or other priorities weren’t in the right place. On the flip side, my conscious mind says not to practice, but my subconscious gave a signal to practice. My yoga has advanced tenfold by asking my subconscious questions. All the answers are inside us if we still our mind, and wait to receive the answer from the universe.