The spark of interest in yoga often ignites an inner obsession that infiltrates every aspect of your life. At first yoga is life and you cannot get enough of it. Yoga reconnects you to long forgotten inner realms and you somehow fall in love with yoga. Yet if your yoga practice evolves into a daily, lifelong relationship it is almost inevitable that at some moment you will get bored with it. The insatiable hunger for as much yoga as possible will shift and change to a space where you will be absolutely full of it. This period of lackluster levels of initiative often comes ironically as a result of your full immersion in the yoga world. While this is a crisis stage where many practitioners quit yoga, change teachers or switch styles of yoga it is actually a place where the yoga practice itself has a unique opportunity to work on the deepest levels of the subconscious if you stay with it.
Anything done repeatedly over a long period of time has the potential to get boring, route and mundane. One of the main reasons why the initial glow of the romance period of yoga fades is because the practice has actually managed to sink down and penetrate a deep layer of consciousness. At this stage boredom is actually an obstacle to spiritual growth not just an annoying thing to face each day on the mat. If you have the courage to move through it just on the other side of boredom is deep and lasting peace, unity with yourself and the strength and determination to live with integrity. Boredom is an important maturing phase of the journey inward and one that is only experienced by a practitioner who has already committed themselves to the daily practice. Yoga is a process where the impossible becomes possible and the possible eventually becomes easy. If your practice moves to the stage where you are bored it is a result of the intelligent effort you have put into your yoga practice every day. When the specialness of yoga transforms into something that you can do automatically it can be said to be fully integrated.
When yoga changes from strange and exotic to normal and ordinary you have succeeded at turning yoga into lifestyle commitment rather than a mere passing fancy. If you tune into the feeling of boredom when it arises it can lead you to the realization that your daily practice has reached a whole new level of awareness within. This usually means that you now have access to a subconscious level. Once you experience this deeper stage of awareness boredom is a natural hurdle to cross as your system gets used to living in a more peaceful state. Boredom itself appears as a kind of itch on the field of your being that seems to crave the initial excitement of the beginning and begs you to scratch it will all types of distractions. This dilemma is like being in a long term relationship with a loving partner and yearning for the uncertainty of flirtation exactly when you begin to really feel the security of trusting your partner with your deepest intimacies. It is when we get everything that we want that the ego kicks in and tells us that we are not satisfied with what we have and that we should search for something more. While desire itself is not bad and in fact leads us to new levels, when unhealthy craving tempts us with actions that may lead us away from a life aligned with our higher purpose the real work of yoga begins.
Yoga teaches you how to make peace with your deepest self and feel contentment with the life and body that you have. Whenever you feel lackadaisical about your yoga practice look for small instances of beauty in each posture and allow every breathe to rekindle the flame of inspiration. Observe your feelings of boredom but do not let them rule your actions and one day you feel a deeper and more lasting sense of peace. Allow curiosity to bring new presence to your practice in each moment. When you the basics of physical practice are established deeply you are more free to explore the subtleties of alignment, breathe, philosophy and inner awareness. Only when you do your yoga practice far past the initial point of infatuation will you know that this relationship has the lasting power to be a lifelong commitment. One of the greatest tests of any lifelong relationship is the ability to weather some of the inevitable dark storms the make landfall on the coast of our consciousness.
As you practice yoga the "truth" about yourself is exposed and it is not always as rosy as imagined. Sometimes facing reality brings about a sharp end to the honeymoon period with yoga. Simply feeling how tight your hamstrings are, how weak your muscles feel, how stiff your back is or how blocked your hip joins are every day for a year can be brutal. Boredom in this case is a coping mechanism that takes you out of facing the sometimes unhappy reality at hand.
Another experience that can be very boring to face is a yoga-related injury. Dealing with pain can mean adding in humbling modifications and adjustments to the practice and many people quit at their first difficult injury. While I wish everyone to be injury-free in yoga one of the first steps towards achieving a mature and healthy yoga practice is to have a yoga-related injury and move through it into healing. Remaining excited about yoga even when you are not able to perform cool tricks means that you are willing to go through the full process of transformation. While it can be heartbreakingly boring to let go of all the funky moves that you identify with, injury is a great teacher that you will learn from when you move through it into ultimate healing. Injury, repetition and simple difficulty naturally bring up boredom and if you move through this state when it arises you will allow yoga to powerfully transform your life far beyond any mere series of postures. When yoga is just as mediocre, mundane and miserable as the rest of your life it really begins to teach you how to make peace with your life.
Romantic poet William Blake says that a true test of the human spirit is to find innocence through experience and it is exactly this seemingly impossible state of union that yoga asks you to tap into on the inner spiritual path. Just on the other side of the apparent ordinariness of your experience is actually a much deeper understanding of yourself, your body and your yoga practice. When you can see the beauty of all life shining with the power of creation regardless of time or location yoga has worked its magic through you. Beyond the wow phase of yoga you confront the monotony of doing the same practice everyday and if you stay with your yoga practice through this inevitable period you will one day tap into a limitless wealth of wisdom. You have to do your yoga practice so much so that it is not special anymore so that you can learn to experience a kind of specialness that never fades and a beauty that is truly eternal.
About Kino MacGregor
Kino MacGregor is a small business owner (www.miamilifecenter.com), yoga teacher and freelance journalist who has produced two yoga DVDs and is currently working on her first book, Inner Peace, Irresistible Beauty to be released late April 2009. For complete details please see www.ashtanga-awareness.com.