Sarah Fretwell

Yoga, Movement, Mobility, Wellness

self practise

What to do if you're stuck in a yoga rut (and how to get out of it)

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Whether you're a fully fledged yogi, or an every-now-and-again sort of yoga person, it's only inevitable that you'll come across a brick wall in your practice at least once in your life.

I personally went through this, shall we say "yoga rut", back in 2015, a year after I had started teaching. My practise went down from being everyday to once a week if I was lucky. I'd lost my yoga mojo, and felt really guilty about it but I just didn't feel like practising.

I think for me, I wasn't going to enough classes or workshops in order to keep me inspired, and this combined with my diminishing self-practice meant that I totally lacked inspiration in this area of my life. I was still teaching, but not really practising nearly enough as I should have been. Luckily, I regained my yoga mojo and it's back with a vengeance.

It happens to all of us. Life gets too busy, we get bored of our regular routines and classes, maybe even our teachers, and there's a thousand things we'd rather do instead.

No matter how long you've been in your rut for, there's definitely a way out. Here are my 3 tips on how to inject some life back into your practice...

1) Classes Classes Classes! Yup, the best way to gain inspiration if you've lost your own sense of practice is to book yourself on to some yoga classes. I personally love to to go yoga classes that have been recommended to me because the teacher is that fantastic, that my yoga friends go to or that are in studios that I really rate. Ask around, follow other yogis on Instagram and see which classes they are going to, and go along. Try different teachers until you find about 3-5 teachers that you absolutely adore. Yoga is a very personal practice, and the yoga teacher makes or breaks the class, so keep searching for those gems of teachers, the ones that you instantly warm to, that challenge you, that empower you, that you feel you can talk to after class, and that teach from the heart.

2) Grab a friend. A great way to get back into yoga and on to your mat more regularly is to go to classes with a friend. Finding someone in your life who's interested in yoga but might be stronger or more flexible than you is a really great way to get that competitive streak going again! When you lose your yoga mojo, it sometimes just takes a little bit of a competitive spark to re-ignite your love for your practice. Going to yoga classes with a friend or following inspiring yogis on Instagram and attempting the poses that they practise is a sure fire way to give yourself the boost you need. Once you know you've got a lot more to give, a lot more strength in you, and start to see progress, you'll be even more eager to step on to your mat the next day.

3) Stop for a while. It's ok to stop practising yoga for a while. Sometimes, we just need time out. This goes for anything in life - sometimes things that we once absolutely adored can become a task that we "have to do." Maybe you've been putting too much pressure on yourself and have lost the sense of fun and playfulness of yoga. In this case, it's absolutely fine to call it quits for a few weeks, even months, and to see what happens. I guarantee that if you love yoga deep down, you'll be drawn back to your mat one day. Trust the process, let nature do its thing, and don't try to force something that doesn't want to be forced. If its meant to be, if you're meant to come back to yoga, then you will. So let go, trust the timing of your life, and don't beat yourself up about it. Sarah xx

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Why practising yoga little and often is best

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My yoga practise has changed a lot over the years. A lot. From 90 minutes once a week when I started practising several years ago, to an hour twice a week a few years later, to 30 minutes to an hour almost everyday currently.

I used to think that I needed to practise one hour to 90 minutes once a week in order to progress, and would dedicate my weekends to fitting in a long and sweaty practise and then leave it for a week until next weekends practise.  And now, I still like to fit in an hour to 90 minutes of yoga in a class each weekend, and appreciate that this kind of practise is great for building strength and flexibility.

But there is a real truth in the saying of little and often. Once I said to myself that I needed to commit to practise yoga everyday, things started to change. It became less of a chore and way more enjoyable, an outlet for my creativity, both mentally and physically. Once I started to practise 15 minutes of yoga after work in the evenings, 15-20 minutes in the mornings or at lunch, and longer practises or classes over the weekend, I noticed myself progressing in poses that had been totally unachievable before. My flexibility increased, which in turn increased my determination to practise even more.

I started becoming more aware of how my body felt day to day and the changes that occurred in my body and mind, and started stepping on to my mat and going with what felt good on that day. Working with what I have right in that moment, and moving accordingly.

So here are my 4 pieces of advice to start practising more frequently, no matter how busy you are:

  1. SET YOUR ALARM 20-30 MINUTES EARLIER.

This one takes a little getting used to if like me you're not much of a morning person. But setting your alarm 20-30 minutes before you need to get up for work in the mornings, and moving slowly to unravel any tension or stiffness that's built up during the night is a great way to tick off your yoga practise before your day has begun. Move with some simple cat-cows and downward facing dogs, some gentle forward folds, anything to wake up the spine, hips and hamstrings.

2.  SCHEDULE IN YOUR CLASSES

The easiest way to commit to practising yoga is by scheduling in your yoga classes before the start of the week. Book that Friday evening Vinyasa class or Sunday morning Yin, and get it in the diary. This way, you know that you're definitely going to have a longer practise in during your week, so you've already committed yourself to showing up.

3. LAY OUT YOUR MAT

This one is key for me. Find a space in your house that feels cosy, personal and spacious. Personalise this space with whatever makes you happy, for me that's a vase of flowers, my yoga props, maybe a candle for the evenings. Roll out your mat and keep it there. Then every time you go to practise, your space is already there waiting for you. Minimal effort, maximum results.

4. FIND WAYS TO FIT YOGA IN

Another goodie. Start to constantly look for times to fit yoga into your life. Maybe you work long hours at a desk? Try slipping off to a quiet part of your office, finding a free room, or heading to the park during lunch, and just practise a few forward folds, downward dogs and sun salutations for 15 minutes. You can even practise hip openers just by sitting at your desk. Try sitting cross-legged on your chair rather than your feet on the floor, which shortens your hamstrings and tightens your hips. This will immediately stretch your hips and make that next yoga class a little less of a shock to the system (and hips!). Even before bed, can you step on to your mat and practise yoga for 15 minutes instead of an extra 15 minutes watching TV? Start looking for ways to fit yoga in, and you'll soon find that you were making excuses before, and that there are plenty of solutions!

Finally, definitely don't beat yourself up if you only manage to fit in 5 minutes everyday instead of 30 minutes. Start with baby steps. A little yoga here, a little yoga there. Maybe you'll find that things open up and 5 minutes turns into 15. And 15 minutes of yoga everyday equals to 7.6 hours a month. That's already better than practising 1 hour a week, which equals 4.3 hours per month.

I hope this helps,

Sarah

xxx