Lately I've been having a renewed love affair with yoga. After twenty years, with bouts of periodic dormancy, it is always heartening to greet the passion again. Since I became a studio owner and teacher (almost 14 years!) I've struggled intermittently to find a good balance with my practice and the other hats necessary to keep the studio alive. I've gone for months at a time when I dreaded practicing because all I could do was look at things like dust on a pipe or a flickering light bulb. Or, I'd focus so heavily on what a teacher was lacking in or doing too much of, that I simply could not get engaged in my practice.
In moments like now, when my love affair with yoga is hot and heavy, I realize how silly it is to focus on the small things, the inconsequential factors that really don't affect my individual practice. It's important for me to remember this, so when I get bogged down in these details in the future, I can more quickly be aware that the small things are not what make my practice. It is what I choose to do during my practice that makes my practice.
It's like any long term relationship. My best friend has been married to the same man for twenty years. She jokes, "It's been twenty years. We've done pretty well. Now we can move on...." Of course she's just being funny, but she's also acknowledging a truth in her life; that after a long time, things get a bit stale, and there is a fatigue or lack of motivation that sets in. She and her husband acknowledge the ebb and flow in their passion and they also see the bigger picture, the long-term picture. After twenty years, they have the faith that they will get back to the "love affair" soon enough.
Many years ago I had a therapist who talked about "disappointments" versus "deal breakers" in relationships. At the time, I was fresh out of an unloving, unstable 10-year relationship and trying to navigate what being in a healthy relationship meant. We have to consider disappointments and deal breakers in all relationships. In a romantic relationship a deal breaker is very different from a deal breaker in a friendship. In a friendship, something that's a disappointment might be a deal breaker with your romantic partner. And everyone's window of tolerance and comfort is different, so the spectrum is broad.
One of the things I know for sure in my own life is that yoga is a non-negotiable. While I'm proudly plugging away in my current relationship for almost a decade, outside of my relationship with my family of origin, yoga is most definitely my longest relationship. Not practicing yoga would be a deal breaker for me. I often say that Yoga is a learning laboratory for life. The little things-- distracted focus, habitual fidgeting, laziness, close-mindedness-- these are all things we can see in the yoga room, but also translate to our bigger lives.
My practice is what I make it, what I do while I'm there. So is my job as a parent. I screw up being a mom regularly and I have to clean up, reorganize. So is my relationship with my beloved. We just spent a year remodeling a complete fixer-upper---our nerves are frayed, our patience is short, and our coffers are depleted. And it's hard to see clearly through that. But it's important to see the bigger picture. What's important? What practice do I want to have? When you are in a groove with your kid or experiencing renewed passion with your partner, take note, appreciate it and absorb the moments. And, as the years come and go, you'll fall out with your mate, find yourself feeling out of control as a parent, lose your passion for yoga. Have patience. It all comes back.