Carolyn Young
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Skipping Practice

During the holiday season, we either stay at home to celebrate Christmas with friends or travel to spend time with family. But this year we celebrated a bit differently by taking a family vacation the last week of 2016.

It was good family fun. No excesses, except maybe too much walking. There was no rushing around, no last minute shopping, no over-eating nor the traditional glass of sparkling wine at midnight. But also no yoga practice. 

I didn’t plan to skip practice. I traveled with my mat and yoga clothes. There was the moon day followed by my ladies days, one day of a very short practice, and three more days of no yoga practice. Added up that's a whole week of no asana practice! The funny thing is, I felt no guilt associated with not practicing. This usually isn’t the case. If for any reason I happen to skip a planned day of practice I feel guilty, as though I haven’t held my part of the bargain. I feel as though I didn’t plan my day right or I wasn’t in control of the situation. I think about all the things I could have done differently to make it to my mat. This creates stress and a lack of self-worth. It is unnecessary pressure I place upon myself. No wonder non-ashtangis think we take our practice to the extreme. Practice no matter what, right?

My practice time is scheduled. It's part of my daily routine. Holidays are different, and this one definitely was.  Being with my family around the clock is a pleasure but it’s also a challenge. It means I don’t have a lot of time for myself. During our vacation, I could have woken up at 4 am to practice, but after a long day of walking and having fun, I also needed my rest to do it all again the next day. I chose family time over asana practice.

I realized during those days of no practice that I am no longer attached to my asana practice. When I first started practicing, I would do my whole practice every day and if I couldn't, I would get upset and frustrated. I believed that my asana practice was all that mattered. But the truth is no one cares if I practice or not; it really only matters to me. But people do care how I treat them. So what's important is how I translate the lessons learned on my mat into my daily life. It matters what I have to offer and how I can be of service. The effect of the practice is cumulative and after years of practice, I can say that my yoga practice is working, even if I skip a few days. 
However, it’s not about taking days off, skipping days or doing as I please.  The yoga practice asks us to be mindful. I realized that a day (or three) well-spent creating memories with my family is more important than 90 minutes on the mat.

I am home now and ready to get on my mat!

Carolyn

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