Today, we're breaking down the most challenging yoga pose of all. Many attempt it; a strong few succeed. I've fallen down on this one myself. It's unlike any other posture, but every yogāsana depends on the success of this one.
Although it can be a difficult practice, Getyourasstoclassāsana is almost impossible to do wrong. In fact, the only potential for failure lies in not doing it at all. Here are my tips for getting into it, gracefully or not.
- Leave yourself a voice memo, a realtime message in your own happy vibration. Be specific and concrete in your feelings and needs. Make a clear request. Sign off with affection. Here's a message I left myself last week: "Dear Stephanie, when you practice yoga, you feel relaxed and strong and cared for. You have a deep need for healthy movement. Please go to that 9:00 yoga class by getting your butt out the door by 8:20. Love, your body-mind-spirit, especially your tight hips"
- Clear the runway the night before. Put the yoga pants next to the wallet and car keys. For a home practice, shove some clutter aside and roll out the yoga mat in the living room. Have the breakfast smoothie pack prepped and waiting in the fridge. Bonus: Taking action to prime your environment gives you a running start toward your desired outcome.
- Do it in the morning. Willpower can be exhausted by a full day's work making decisions. This is why most workplace extramarital affairs begin after long workdays, and why most diets are broken late at night. Making good decisions — and resisting bad ones — is much harder when you're tired.
- Write out a plan for each contingency. Miss the bus? Hit the 10:30 class instead of the 9:00. Kids late to school? Check out the new studio down the block. Morning routine is a total shitshow? Have a change of clothes stashed at your workplace and hustle to the gym for a quickie class on your lunch break. Bonus: Have a backup plan for your backup plan. Put that yoga DVD right where you'll see it before all hope is lost. It will not be ideal, but you know how to make the most of any class. Ask your yoga teacher how late you can possibly arrive without messing up the experience. Sure, punctuality is preferred, but as a yoga teacher, I say missing the first 10 minutes is way better than missing class altogether. If you've already got a plan in place, all you have to do is execute it. No decisions; just DO.
- Don't put it on your calendar. Do you put brushing your teeth on your calendar? Is every meal you plan to eat for the week on your calendar? Of course not.* Making these seemingly hardline commitments and then flexing them due to inevitably changing schedules is a sure way to feel like a failure before you've even really failed at anything. "I missed my 9:00 class. I FAIL AT YOGA." No, you don't. You just missed part of your routine. I've walked out of my house with fuzzy teeth before. That's why I have a toothbrush in my purse — I planned for that contingency. Say no to schedule guilt.
*Unless you're doing a Paleo Challenge or Sugar Impact Diet or some such nutrition program. If so, calendarized meals are totally a thing — I've done it; I get it.
- Buddy up. Communities are created from the basic human need to be socially supported. You don't have to become yoga besties or even Facebook friends. You do have to realize that if you don't show, you'll be missed.
- Log it. I know, I know, yoga isn't a thing to be measured. Measure it anyway. Ten words for each practice is enough, e.g. "I. Hate. Triange. My hamstrings are steel cables of pain." Writing down the experience makes it more significant, more memorable, and ultimately more valuable. By leaving even the thinnest trail of breadcrumbs, you can trace your way back through weeks and months of practice, e.g. "Triange pose no longer sucks. I kinda like the stretch."
- Take photos. No one else ever has to see them. Never mind how you look. Focus on the breath, the alignment, and maximum integrity in the body. Choose one pose or many. Photograph yourself again at month intervals.
- Send yourself a postcard from the other side. This technique is similar to leaving that encouraging voice memo, juiced up with a little more breathless enthusiasm. This is the text of the postcard that sits on my desk, which is where I'm usually sitting when I waffle over getting my butt to yoga: "You just got back from yoga class! You feel amazing. You're a shiny, happy Stephanie, bursting with endorphin-fueled inspiration and ready-to-go-ness. You feel powerful, loved, and superstrong. YOU WIN."
Ultimately, it's not the end of the world if you miss a class.
It doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't make you a yoga failure. Missing a practice now and again puts you squarely with the majority of yogīs and really, with the majority of all humans that have ever tried creating a new habit.
The important learning aspect of missing a yoga practice is the opportunity we have to start again. And again. And again. Here's to many beautiful beginnings.
Now, get your ass to class.