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  • Writer's pictureJessy

Cultivating a long-time practice

The other day I had a talk with a friend and asked him why he left his former job...a job that I would call a dream job. His answer was so familiar and I felt it so viscerally that I had to share it. He said that when you make your job out of your passion, it can ruin your passion. Without your passion/your spark, any job becomes just a job, no different than any other job.

Wow, so true. I've heard this so many times from other yoga teachers and think this is a good place for me to share my experiences as a teacher of body movement practices for over 20 years (yikes, don't tell anyone that).

In the beginning it's intoxicating. Like any new relationship, it's all-in and obsessive. Looking up Instagram and YouTube tutorials, thinking about your movement sessions when you're not on your mat and learning all that you can. This phase is fun, easy and so good for the brain and the body. Only thing to watch in this phase is that you don't over-train...been there, done that, I don't recommend it.

Once settled into a routine, the real work begins. Day in and day out practice. Showing up every day, more out of habit than desire. Taking the number of repetitions required for your brain to establish a base of knowledge and the body to strengthen and adapt to the practice.

Here's where stagnation can set in. Watch out for it. It sneaks up on you. Suddenly, one day, you find yourself not really inspired to practice or settled into such a routine that you're bored. This is when you need to consciously step in and make a change to keep your passion alive.

Things that have helped me to keep my passion for yoga, while teaching it, over the years?

  1. Separate your practice from your work. Rarely am I practicing what I'm teaching. What I need and what my students need are not the same thing (and I don't just mean difficulty level)

  2. Don't practice while you teach or teach while you practice. This is a big one and so common for newer teachers to teach by doing. These are 2 very different skills and you'll find, like most multi-tasking, that if you try to do both together, you really just do a mediocre job of each. Plus, practicing while you teach can kill your desire to practice more after class and can put added strain on your body.

  3. Try a new movement practice. I knew at the beginning of the pandemic that I needed a focus to keep me getting to my mat, so I became an Animal Flow instructor. All forms of body movement practice have so much in common. The more skills you polish, the more those skills can translate to other realms. Animal Flow has helped me so much with the practice of moving my body with grace and strength. Maybe for you its tai chi or running or trampoline?

  4. Take a break. Really, it's ok. If you don't want to do your practice for a month, then don't. Don't add in any guilt for it either. We all need breaks from time to time. Overtraining in anything will only lead to injury

  5. Challenge yourself to teach something new. Instead of teaching a peak pose, try teaching a progressive skill. Maybe change up the cues that you usually give. If you've said the same thing to your students for years, they probably already are doing it. Give them something new to try.

  6. Use your practice to inspire your teaching. Explore moving in a way that is more like play. Don't take yourself so seriously, discover new ways of moving, mix up your routine. I've discovered so many unique versions on poses by just messing around with my intention. If you are excited about something, share it with your students.

Forcing yourself to practice or work without your spark will just build resentment. Maybe you are in a season where rest is what you need to improve your practice.

Acknowledge the gifts of familiarity, comfort and security in a practice that you are intimately familiar with. True, it's not the intensity and fire that starts a practice, but

fire is not meant to burn at high intensity for an extended time.

As I read back over this it sounds like the advice of any good couples therapist or coach right? Well your relationship to your practice IS a relationship. Relationships take work. But it doesn't have to feel like another job. Don't be afraid to shake things up, take a break or get help/new education to keep the fire.

How do you keep inspired in your movement practice?

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