How to Practice Good Yoga, Even on the Bad Days

We all know it’s much easier to practice yoga and stay centered when we are feeling good and everything is going well. The big question is how can we invite yoga into the moments when we are the most stressed out, grumpy, distracted, overwhelmed, bunched up and miserable?

Unfortunately, these are often the times when it can be tempting to avoid practice altogether. We claim we are too busy, too tight, too depressed, too whatever. When we are feeling off, many of us share the same habit of actually pushing away the very things that will make us feel better.

At its heart, yoga is about union.  When we resist our practice on the bad days, it’s like we are saying that the only time we can really open to the divine is when everything is going well.

As the queen of skipping my practice on the days when I have a lot going on (physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally), I know a thing or two about resistance. For me, this resistance is usually a hideously unconscious dance I do to avoid facing myself. Theses are the times when I wander through my day, cranky and resentful, feeling tragically abandoned by God and all things good.

The most difficult yoga I ever do is showing up for practice on the hard days and continuing to reach toward something greater than my stockpile of excuses and the compelling stories of my life. 

Welcome to the ancient yogic art of opening to grace when you feel like crap.  Herein lies the path to freedom.

This is a little awareness practice that I have been adding to my yoga that has been helping me to do this.  The next time you are on your mat, (first take a moment to celebrate that you made it there as thats often the hardest part) then give this a try and see what comes up!

As you move through your practice, notice the movements and poses that come easily to you. Where is the breath easily accessible? Where is there an effortless grace?

Then, see if you can also find that same grace and maybe even a sense of peace in the poses that are least comfortable to you. Can you relax into whatever is happening even if it is intense, unfamiliar, or boring?

Try to keep feeling towards the divine even when you're distracted, when your body is tight, or when emotions bubble to the surface.

What happens if you allow yourself to fully surrender to the sensual wash of breath and the richness of the subtle currents of energy as they flood through you? Does your body, mind and heart feel integrated? Are you present, open and aware?  Can you find the beauty of each sensation, feeling, thought, even when they are not pretty?

The more we keep expanding our awareness, moment by moment, pose by pose and breath by breath, the more we will be able to find this yogic connection as we move through the rest of our lives. 

In my opinion, good yoga is so much less about what we do as it is about how we do it. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter if things are going the way we think we want them to or if everything seems to be falling apart. Every moment is the perfect moment to practice opening to what is and rest back into the divine grace that lies just beneath the surface of our lives.

Kirsten Warner