Are you coming to yoga?

I’d like to share a little story:  One of my early yoga teachers was a man named Bill Counter, who was also the original owner of Yoga Bhoga, and the first person to officially hire me as a yoga teacher. I was once like so many of you: a burgeoning yogi seeking a home studio, skipping from one introductory special to the next trying to stretch my yoga budget as far as it could go. One night during my 2-week trial, I went to Bill’s very popular Ashtanga class. It was packed to the gills, and I was clearly the last student to arrive. I looked around, and decided it would be easier for everybody if I just left, so I quietly crept out. I was almost to the elevator of the 3rd floor galleria space (Yoga Bhoga’s original home, for those of you who are not Old Portlanders), when I heard a voice. “Are you coming to yoga?” It was Bill’s benevolent, jokingly admonishing tone, offered with an eyebrow raised in amusement. I turned around, marched back in, squeaked out a place for my mat and had an excellent yoga practice.

That moment stuck with me. It was the moment my teacher noticed I wasn’t there, noticed I was finding an excuse not to practice, and lovingly intervened on my behalf. It was also a moment when I realized that it’s not always convenient to practice, but its still important.

I practiced with Bill for a couple of years very regularly, and then dropped off at some point, probably because I was busy with the rest of my life. When he left Portland, we organized a goodbye celebration for him, and I told him that I had been meaning to get back to his class, but I just hadn’t made it happen. He said in a knowing way “Well, that’s why people need to go to classes when they are happening.”

This comment also stayed with me all these years, as I myself went on to become a yoga professional. It’s a challenging industry, because we require a live audience in order to do our work, and live audiences are increasingly hard to find with so many people leading overworked, over-scheduled, overwhelmed lives. At the end of the day most people are turning to their electronic devices for connection and engagement, out of sheer exhaustion and the challenges of making the effort to gather together. Despite all of our best intentions, new actions need to form that reflect the priorities we actually hold. We must prioritize in-person human connection, self-care, experiencing the loving expertise of a live yoga teacher, coming together in community to learn and grow. These things are no less than the foundation of our humanity. 

Are you ready to meet your intentions with action? Try these 6 easy to follow tips to start building the yoga practice you dream of today:

  1. Respect that building a new habit is almost always more difficult than we think its going to be, and take the extra steps outlined in this list even if you don’t think you need them.
  2. Sign up for classes online, in advance, and put them in your calendar. Respect your calendar. Do what it says.
  3. Pick 1-3 classes that work for your schedule almost every week and commit to them as if you were in school on a semester system. When teachers see you in class regularly, they can get to know you and your practice better and offer you more individualized support. 
  4. Invite a friend to go to yoga with you so you will be accountable to somebody else.
  5. Sign up for a free 30-minute strategy session with me or a YR staff member so we can help you get clear on WHY you want to be doing yoga and how to get the most out of it.
  6. If you keep putting off group classes, consider starting with private yoga sessions, which will keep you more accountable and support you in your unique yoga journey.

Journal prompt for meeting your intentions with action: 

What do I want to get from my yoga practice? If I had that outcome, what would it do for me? What will it cost me if I don’t have that outcome? 

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