When Bad Habits Creep Back In

So far this summer, I have done a lot of traveling. This has been wonderfully fun and I wouldn’t change it, but it has been brutal for my Bikram yoga practice. While I typically practice 4-5 times per week during most of the year, so far this summer, I have practiced 4-5 times in total, and most of that was in the past week. It is bad. My body is not in top form, my muscles ache, and for better or for worse, the bad habits I have worked so hard to break this year have reared their ugly heads. Lucky for me, yoga is a practice, not a perfect, so I will have the opportunity to rebuild.

Picking nose

During this past year of yoga I set a number of goals for myself: to face camel head on and just do it — both sets, to execute a quick and clean 1-2-3 transition to Savasna in the floor series, and to take a more mindful approach to breathing in Savasna. I had made good progress on all three, but I seem to be back at square one. I had expected my flexibility and balance to be reduced given my time away from regular practice, but the mental steps backward surprised me.

In my most recent class, camel got the best of me, twice, as I manufactured some excuse to sit out both sets. My transitions were sloppy and long, and my mind raced during Savasna. Part of the problem might be that I am so busy working on building back my physical practice that I have little energy left for the mental piece of it. My muscles are shaking in some of the postures, as they work to achieve the flexibility and strength they once had. My balance is diminished, so I fall out of postures more frequently. My edge has retreated and it is taking a lot of energy to get that back.

Even so, it is scary to see how quickly bad habits can return. In the end, it seems that it all comes down to consistency. Teachers sometimes say that if you are not moving forward, you are by definition moving backward. There is no staying still. In other words, if you are not actively reinforcing your good habits, the path of least resistance will take over, and bad habits will return. That is why a consistent practice is so important in yoga, and for life more generally.

This experience has been humbling, but it also an opportunity. As I rebuild my stamina, I will have the chance to refocus on my form, both physical and mental, which can only be good for my practice over the long run. With patience and consistency, I am confident the yoga will take me back to where I need to be. I am excited to resume my journey.

Readers, do bad habits ever creep back into your practice?

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9 thoughts on “When Bad Habits Creep Back In

  1. YES! I’ve had a difficult summer with practicing too, due to a combination of injuries and travel. And every time I go back, I feel this way. But I actually embrace it as a chance to start over and see if I can improve “better”. The most recent return – that happened!

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  2. If it wasn’t for bad habits, I’d have no habits at all. After all the classes I’ve taken, I’m amazed at how poorly I perform pretty much all of the postures. Fat and massively inflexible, I seem to make progress in millimeters, if that. But I’m keeping at it. There has been a challenge at my studio through the summer — take at least three classes/week and at the end of the run there will be a drawing for a free year. I’m still in the running, and I think it’s down to 14 or 15 people.

    (btw, new to your blog — I like it.)

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  3. Hi, I’ve just discovered your blog and am loving reading through the posts!

    When I think of bad habits in yoga I think mine are mostly mental: getting carried out with wandering thoughts, not focusing on breathing, comparing myself to others, etc.

    I find one of the great joys and great frustrations is that every practice is different. Sometimes I have a class that just flows and feels perfect. Then 2 days later it’s a struggle to survive.

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