procrastinating practice

Procrastinating Practice


I have a confession to make. I’ve been neglecting my yoga asana practice the last couple months. I have a dozen excuses but the truth is, I haven’t set the time aside to get into it.

I know this is purposeful on my part, because I think about going to do some yoga and then I choose to do something else (and there is always something else that needs to be done, right?) Like all things important to me, I procrastinate.  

But actually…

This doesn’t mean I’m not practicing entirely. I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is move and meditate.

But some mornings this routine is mostly mechanical. If I can get my mind to concentrate and be curious about what I’m doing, I feel more engaged. The engaged practices feel much better than the mechanical ones. But still, following my routine misses the mark. It doesn’t do the trick. I still feel like I’ve been neglecting my practice.  

Why is this? How can I be practicing and neglecting my practice at the same time?

Different reasons to practice

I think it’s because I practice for a lot of different reasons. The practice that I’m doing daily I do so I know who I am and what I’m working with every morning. It’s a check-in, a temperature reading, a baseline. Without it I would feel like life was happening without my awareness, like I was always chasing my tail.  

The practice I’ve been neglecting is one I do to integrate what I’m learning, to embody creativity and stimulate insight. It’s like playtime, where I have no agenda and let my body teach my brain what’s what. Practicing like this takes time and minimal distraction. I have to set aside 45 minutes or more to roll out my mat and get into it. I keep intentionally skipping this one. I wash dishes instead. 

I also practice to teach, which is different still. When I’m developing a class I feel creative, but I’m not thinking about my own experience so much. I’m thinking more about what it is I’m trying to teach and how to communicate in clear and succinct words, creative metaphors and imagery, with my body, and with related variations for all the different bodies that practice with me. And camera angles, given my newish online teaching skills.  

But it’s all excuses

There are a number of other reasons why I practice and different ways I engage in yoga, but that’s not really my point here. They’re all my excuses, paragraphs I’m writing to defend myself when I know the solution is simple. I have to just do it. 

Ahhh!!! Why is dedication so elusive? Why is just doing something sometimes the hardest thing to do? Why do I choose to wash the dishes instead? It’s 1000x less interesting. What is the DEAL with procrastination?  

Anyway, I have a feeling most of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

What’s Yoga say?

I think the Sutras would say this is all the citta vrttis, the fluctuations of the mind. The whole reason we need yoga is to settle these down and concentrate. I think I just need a lot of yoga. Ha!

This must be why the path I’ve been studying (raja yoga from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) was usually practiced by renunciates living in the forest, meditating in dark, quiet caves. Perhaps I should read up on a different path of practice. Maybe the householder’s yoga of action (karma yoga) or of using the senses instead of transcending them (tantra yoga). Good thing I’ve got lifetimes. 

Here’s to all of us spending a little more time doing what we know we ought to do, and what we really want to do.