4 Helpful Tips to Get Back into Yoga After Taking a Break

back to yoga
© Svarga Dvijasana. Photo by Lesya Li.

Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul. ― Amit Ray

In my entire life, I have never met a yogi who wouldn’t take a break from his practice. There comes a point in time when even the most amazing relationships hit a pause. Naturally we go on hiatus and mingle with other issues. I took a break from my yoga practice and wasn’t sure if I would ever return to yoga.
Sure enough, my yoga mat was gathering dust under the bed for months! But then, something had changed which led me back into my yoga practice…

How I Got Myself Back Into Yoga

Your Body is Your Responsibility. Setting the Record Straight

Who is in charge of your body? Who is in charge of what you eat? Who is in charge of your daily exercise routine making sure that your heart works properly? WHO IS IN CHARGE OF YOU?

These questions kept piling on top of each other during my daily meditation. And nothing seemed to shake them off.

Let me share a story with you.

A friend of mine has a tendency to open her school photo album, nostalgically flip the pages, reminisce about the past and sigh about the body she once had…

Then she would tell me about her getting a membership card to the wellness centre with all kinds of yoga sessions available!
She would talk about all the good things her gym had to offer, but when I would say: Wow! This sounds exciting! So, how often do you go there? – my friend would shyly look away and change the subject, or, would try her best to let me know how busy she was and that she had no time left for any sport or activity that involves any movement. She had no time to take care of herself…

Is it true, though?!

Do we really have no time left to take care of ourselves? How busy should we get to fail to acknowledge our basic need to take care of ourselves? What does it really mean to “take care of yourself” anyway? 

I remember my friend doing yoga and how happy it made her feel. It helped her to understand and listen to her body. It helped to balance her eating habits and make healthier choices. It helped her to look and feel good!

Maybe it wasn’t my place to tell her that “we tend to find time for the things that matter to us” –  but I truly had her best interests in mind.We started talking about getting her and myself back into yoga.

Which lead me to this: Make your health a top priority! Period.
That is balanced eating habits and daily exercise.

Look in the mirror. Focus on the body you have right NOW. Not last month or a year ago.

All we have is NOW. In fact, we need to stay grounded at the moment and see our body for what it is: an amazing capsule with a soul. We really need to take care of it to live a long, healthy and happy life.

There is no greater gift to yourself than a great health and it starts from our bedrock habit to make our health a top priority. 

No one will take care of your body except you. That is why your body is your responsibility.

Anyone can become a member at the coolest gym in town, but nothing will work out unless you do.

Therefore, before taking your first step towards coming back to yoga mat (or any activity) make sure YOU take full responsibility for your own body!

Scheduled Baby Steps

Decide what timing is the most suitable for your daily practice. Then take one small action. Think about it like coming into refreshing ocean waves on a hot summer day. Starting from the tip of your toes. Then… One step at a time towards your goal… If you took a long break from your yoga practice, make tiny steps towards your previous regime. Always be kind to your body. For instance, start with simple Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) in the morning and in the evening just like I did. Make it as a natural habit as brushing your teeth. Stay committed.

surya namaskar

Please, refrain from pushing yourself too hard.

The other day I went an extra mile thinking it would be of benefit to me. Instead, I pulled some muscles in my left shoulder blade and collapsed on the mat in excruciating pain. I couldn’t move. But most importantly, I was extremely impatient to get back into yoga. So there, I was lying on the floor with my legs up against the wall. I was about to cry as the pain grew stronger. And I am terrible when it comes to physical pain. I just cannot handle it well.

Surprisingly, instead of crying and feeling sorry for myself, I gave that pain a meaning: it taught me to be more patient with myself and refrain from pushing too hard.

The moral of the lesson is pretty straightforward: there has to be a balance between the intention to advance in your practise and ahimsa

A Gentle Reminder… Make it Visible

Do you remember why did you get into yoga in a first place? Was it because your friend recommended it? Was it because your ultimate goal was to end up on the cover of a Yoga Journal? Did you get into yoga because you’ve heard so much about its benefits and wanted to enhance your health as well?

Whatever the reason was, find one that hooks you.

I wrote myself a reminder and posted it on the wall where I could see it. As a result, every time I see that picture, or a note, or a post-it sticker on the mirror in the bathroom, I would think about yoga and my goals. I found it helpful in keeping me on the course.

Think about your very own motivational reminder, then make it visible.

Be There For Yourself

You might have been stirred into a yoga class by your nagging friend or your doctor or your partner. You might have even been dragged onto your yoga mat at first… but something got you spellbound so you kept coming back for more. The point of the matter is that you aren’t there on the mat to be hell-bound to impress someone by performing Vrschikasana (Scorpion Pose) like a guru. You are there in the class (or at home) because you want to improve your health and you are investing your time in your yoga practice. You are there for yourself, not because of anyone else.

It took me a while to realise that I do yoga for me, and the benefit of my own health, not anyone else.

So wipe the dust off your yoga mat already and get right back on it! Practice and feel good!