Top 5 Reasons People Fall off the Wagon
Most of us have stopped practicing at some juncture in our lives. Many people, when asked, would describe their relationship with yoga as an “on-again-off-again” practice. Like an ex that just keeps lingering around, we just can’t seem to either commit or cut the cord. Here I am going to share with you the top 5 reasons why people stop practicing that I have seen in my 6 years teaching Bikram Yoga.
A perceived “lack of time”
The biggest reason people tend to stop their 90-minute practice is due to a perceived lack of time. It is not about how much time you really have in your day; it is about where you choose to spend it. Especially for those with a busy schedule, it may seem like you just can’t cram it all in AND make it to a 90-minute class.
Here’s what you can do:
1. MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY. Identify what is important AND urgent for you to accomplish in your day. Anything that will not cause a significant impact to your finances, job security, health or relationships should not be considered urgent. You should make sure you are at the top of this list. Period. You should be a top priority in your life. Then, identify what is important but NOT urgent. These are the things that can be set aside for after your practice or put onto the important/urgent list tomorrow.
2. Schedule your practice. Write your practice time on your calendar or in your phone like you would any other appointment. Use our app to sign in to class and once you have it written down and scheduled, commit to it.
Not seeing results
The second most common reason people stop their practice is because they are just not seeing the results. Here are some tips:
1. Try hard. You have made yourself a priority and now it is time to put the energy into yourself. The benefits you receive are directly related to the amount of energy you put in. Think about it like an investment. The greater investment you make, the greater return on that investment.
2. Be consistent. Many people come and take 10 classes in a month and then don’t understand why they don’t see results. You need to develop a consistent routine that you can maintain. Ideally at least three classes a week will yield the highest results when you can MAINTAIN that rhythm. If you can’t maintain, start smaller and slowly incorporate more. You will get more benefit from practicing 80 times in 6 months (roughly 3 times a week) than practicing every day for one month and stopping. This leads to point three.
3. Be patient. I have seen it hundreds of time. Someone comes in wanting to lose weight and after three months they still haven’t taken it off. They want to quit, but the decide to keep pushing. After one month, two months, maybe three months later a key gets turned and the weight starts pouring out like sweat in the hot room. If that person stopped at month three, what would have happened?
While injuries aren’t common in our specific type of yoga, people who are active injure themselves in other activities and stop practicing altogether. Remember, yoga restores the body’s natural alignment and increases circulation needed to heal the body. Unless the injury is severe (usually requiring immobilization or surgery), taking a break for a few days to a couple of weeks should be plenty to get you to a place where you can start back with a GENTLE practice. If you are struggling with an injury, here are some tips:
1. Determine the severity of your injury. Go to a doctor if you are really unsure.
2. Be gentle. One of our members was practicing with cracked ribs (ouch). He was able to manage the class by modifying the postures that caused the most pain. Ask your instructor how you can rehab the injury through the yoga.
3. Don’t be a hero. It is easy for some of us to try to push through the pain, as we know the difference between “discomfort pain” and destructive pain. While there are certain types of pain that should be overridden, any sharp pain related to a previous injury is probably one to be avoided. Ask your instructor if you are experiencing constructive or destructive pain.
Here, I am going to be really honest. Motivation is the most overrated and overvalued aspect of personal transformation. Waiting to be motivated to take action is what leads people to absolute complacency and straight laziness. It is a total cop-out that empowers your excuses rather than your capabilities. Motivation is rarely the cause of accomplishment and is so often the cause of inaction. When you are motivated, everything is easy. If you wait for motivation you are saying, “I only push myself when it’s easy. When it stops being easy, I stop”. That is total BS in my opinion. Developing a consistent practice takes discipline, it takes faith, it takes self-control and deep concentration. Above all it takes DETERMINATION. To hell with motivation. Choose determination. No tips on that one.
I’ll tell you a quick story about an old student I had when I first started teaching in the Bay Area, Johnny Cash (…not the actual Johnny Cash…more like a play on the word “cash”…anyway). Johnny drove a very nice car and lived in a very nice area. I would often see him out at a restaurant in one of the more popular areas in San Jose where I would meet a student I was tutoring in English. One day Johnny comes up to me and says he needs to stop because his financial situation isn’t such that he can continue his practice. While things can change and maybe Johnny was laid off or lost his job, he continued his expensive gym membership and a membership at a martial arts academy. He continued to go out to his expensive dinners and still drove the same beautiful car.
Here are my two theories. While I will never know Johnny’s actual finances, two possibilities exist in my mind:
1. Using his finances was an excuse to quit. It never had anything to do money, but rather a scapegoat to stop practicing yoga. Maybe one of the above reasons was the real cause? Maybe he just stopped enjoying the practice or didn’t like the studio? There is a myriad of possibilities.
2. He wasn’t willing to sacrifice any aspect of his lifestyle to continue his practice. Obviously, for most of us money is a finite resource. We have to choose where we spend it, and in the case of stiff ol’ Johnny Cash, yoga didn’t make the cut.
None of these reasons really had anything to do with his finances. If you are going out to eat several times a month (most people eat out several times a week), if you are going to buy a brand new car with all the bells and whistles, if you are going to pay for several types of memberships and subscriptions, you do not have financial problems. You have a lifestyle problem. Johnny could easily sacrifice a few meals eating out (even two meals, in reality) and afford his yoga membership. You have to make a choice.
Now if finances are a real problem for you, which we all know they can be, it is simple. Increase gains and cut expenses. The cutting expenses part is usually the most realistic and immediate solution. Stop eating out. Making your own food is healthier, anyway. Don’t buy new clothes every month. Don’t go out for drinks. When you do these things you are saying that clothes and drinks are more important than your health. Notice where you invest your money.
Staying with a consistent practice is no easy task, but it is one of the best things you could possibly do for your overall health and wellbeing. I hope I have shined a light on some of the excuses we make and hopefully have given you some tools to decipher and mitigate the damage these excuses have in our lives, even beyond the yoga. Thanks for reading and I hope you check in again soon.
Be cool, stay hot!