JOY: The Journal of Yoga
Summer 2004, Volume 3, Number 5

Struggling with the Practice of Yoga? You are not Alone.
John C. Kimbrough


Many people who know that Yoga is a worthwhile thingto explore, understand and practice sometimes feel a sense of frustration in their attempts to learn and bring it into their lives as they would like to.

The reasons for this vary.

They may be very busy with other activities revolving around their family, their work and their leisure time.

They may have been exposed to difficult, painful, challenging and intimidating learning environments and experiences with Yoga.

They may not have the self discipline to practice as they have been told to or know that they should.

They may find that many of the more subtle aspects of Yoga to be difficult to grasp or think that they are not practical or necessary to their lives.

They may be people that are easily distracted or not concentrated, or the negative forces within them are too powerful to deal with, overcome or weaken at this time in their life.

These are struggles that almost everyone who has come to and brought yoga into their lives have had to deal with at one time or another in their practice.

So if you are at any one of these stages in your attempt to bring Yoga in to your life, do not let it frustrate you.

You are not alone in the experiences and feelings.

Like other aspects of the life experience, we have all been there.

But what can you do to make your learning and practice of Yoga less threatening or difficult?

A few suggestions are given below and briefly expanded on.

1. Try not to think of Yoga as being something undoable or unreachable. Yoga is nothing more then a down to earth and common sense approach to life and living. Many of the mental and physical aspects of Yoga that it teaches us are already within the realm of our consciousness and being. These include things such as working with the body as a way to enhance our mental and physical health and consciousness and the understanding that various morals and ethics that Yoga teaches us and reminds us of are good for us to know and apply as a way to improve our life and the lives of those around us.

2. Try not to put to much pressure on yourselves in progressing too quickly in your ability to do the various postures and techniques of yoga that you have learned. The body and consciousness can stay stiff and rigid for a long period of time after you have started you practice of Yoga. Changes will come about slowly and if you are in too big a hurry, you may push yourself in such a way that you injure yourself, feel like a failure, burn out and can not see the other, perhaps subtler and more important changes that are taking place.

3. Never get into a state or habit where you consciously or unconsciously compare yourself with or compete with other practitioners. Since Yoga does involve what we can do with our body, something that can be seen, be photographed, be marveled it, it can be something that brings about feelings of inferiority or superiority. Sometimes books, teachers, videos and such will also promote this way of looking at Yoga. The greatest yogis are not those who stand on their head for hours on end, but those who have fully realized their ability to be wise, loving and compassionate to all beings and themselves.

4. Take some time and make some effort to learn and apply Yoga in its most holistic form. You can improve your health and cultivate the consciousness through your attitude to eating, sleep and what you do with your leisure time. Yoga also asks that we look more closely at how honest we are in all things, and whether we can practice non - violence in thought, word and action, not only to others, but to ourselves also.

5. Take some time to look at what the teachings of Yoga, put forth in the scriptures of The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, among others, share with us.

6. Take some time to reflect on how your yoga teacher teaches you and perhaps find one who is more suited to what it is you want.

Perhaps you want someone who is older, of the same or opposite gender then you, less demanding and aggressive when it comes to doing the postures, is gentler or more developed in other aspects of the practice of yoga, or willing to take the time and make the effort to talk with you in a interested and sincere manner outside of the classroom environment.

Yoga is a path, practice, science and discipline that is worth learning and practicing.

Do not let your confused or bad experiences with Yoga or one Yoga teacher or Yoga session, or you own
confused feelings about yourself and life keep you from learning and practicing something that in both the short and long - term will bring you greater health and joy.

John teaches Yoga, Buddhism and English and lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He can be reached at [email protected]

Copyright 2004 JOY: The Journal of Yoga