Your yoga practice is not your workout. Your yoga practice is your work in.

Warning, this post might be triggering, because it’s raw and real and vulnerable and coming straight from the heart of a yoga student and yoga teacher. But hear me out yoga community, because I have a ping you’ll find some resonance here. 

I believe a lot of us struggle with what our yoga practice is and how it can support us.

I believe a lot of us treat our yoga practice as a workout, as our daily exercise regimen.

I believe a lot of us treat the yoga practice as a sport, striving to achieve the next advanced posture.

I believe a lot of us are experiencing discomfort, soreness, and injury because of the above mentality.

I believe a lot of us view our yoga practice as something to check off the list, like an errand.

I believe a lot of us experience self-judgement when we don’t check yoga off our daily to-do list.

I believe a lot of us yoga teachers experience our yoga practice as a job, as a means to an end.

I believe a lot of us yoga teachers have lost our personal practice because we’re so immeshed in our role as a teacher.

I believe a lot of us have forgotten what drew to us the practice in the first place, the spark that lit the initial flame.

And finally, I believe a lot of us have become disenchanted with the way yoga is being delivered, so much so that we’re no longer practicing at all.

ALL OF THE ABOVE IS ME….. and more, so much fucking more. 

What about you? Does this resonate? Have my beliefs revealed some of your beliefs? Are we onto something here?

The need to redefine what my yoga practice is has been a “thing” for well over a year. Because honestly, I’ve been really struggling; struggling as a yoga student, a yoga teacher, and a yoga community leader.

As a yoga student, my practice has become almost nonexistent, it’s been at the bottom of my priority list. As a yoga teacher, my devotion to learning, evolving, and experimenting has waned in the wake of my nonexistent practice, which then does a number on my confidence (go figure). And as a yoga community leader, my commitment to walking the talk has been forgotten as I succumbed to the internal pressures of running a growing business.

Needless to say, I’ve been pretty ashamed of my behavior these past few years (which stings to admit here). 

But even with this awareness, I still couldn’t will myself to get back to it, to recommit to the yoga practice, the practice that started my personal revolution.

Until this happened.

One of my BMS Studio members shared her struggles with redefining her yoga practice, and gosh damn, her story aligned so well with mine. It was as if she putting words to the thoughts and feelings that I didn’t even know were within me.

Here’s the-not-so-readers-digest-version of what I came to understand through her story. 

I started practicing yoga solely to lose weight, to see the number on the scale go down, and to avoid other types of working out. I’m not a runner. I’m not a gym girl. I don’t like to lift weights. I’m not into HIIT. Basically, I never found my groove with working out, so my go-to to lose weight was to drastically decrease my calorie intake (sometimes under 700 calories a day).

But then I found yoga and really freaking enjoyed it.

My practiced started at a hot power yoga studio where I practiced for minimum of 75 minutes and 5-7x a week. Every class was advanced (IMO) and every class pushed me to the point of nausea and dizziness. If you didn’t almost pass out and need child’s pose, did you even practice yoga? If you didn’t leave with a sopping wet yoga towel, was it even worth your effort?

So I came to the yoga practice with the mentality that movement is only for losing weight, period. Because why else would you move? The couch is just so much more comfortable.

But then, something shifted.

I started to gain traction with advanced yoga asana and became somewhat obsessed with learning pose after pose, each one more advanced than the next. I was determined to the point of ad nauseam, and my husband and friends can attest to this. 

And as most of you know, this determination led to an injury, which came right as I was graduating from yoga teacher training.

When I reflect on those first few years, it’s now obvious that my relationship to the yoga practice was driven by the ego, self-limiting beliefs, and societies standards. It was pretty much the opposite of what the yoga practice teaches (but we gotta start somewhere, yeah).

Then, I became a yoga teacher, with an injury.

And the pressure to perform, prove, please, pretend, and be perfect had a serious effect on me. Even though I was injured, I kept demoing difficult postures. Even though I was injured, I kept teaching five classes a week, practicing five days a week, while working full-time, and building this community. Even though I was injured, I didn’t listen to the doctors and do my physical therapy, because again, I was afraid to not be in the studio, on my mat, “doing” the yoga practice. We were taught in YTT that we must maintain our personal practice, so there I was, maintaining the only practice I knew – power yoga, vinyasa yoga, and hot yoga.

My why for practicing was yet again, rooted in ego, self-limiting beliefs, and societies standards. I kinda-sorta knew this, but still, I never allowed myself to contemplate the core of the matter.

I just kept pushing, practicing, performing, and proving.

Proving what, I’m not sure.

That I could bend my body in two in hopes that I could gather acknowledgement and approval (via social media mind you). That I was a trusted source because I could stand on my hands. That I was the yoga teacher to follow because hashtag #yogaeverydamnday.

…… and hey, if you’re doing any of the above, it’s okay babe, just know why you’re doing it.

This period then shifted into my role as a yoga community leader and business owner. I wanted and still want nothing more than freedom, and teaching yoga and sharing the yoga practice became that freedom.

And again, I got stuck in a relationship with my yoga practice where MY WHY was misaligned.

I just kept going, never pausing, never processing, never examining (also the opposite of the yoga teachings). I kept viewing the yoga practice as a thing to package, program, promote, and sell, forgetting what matters and why I even became a yoga teacher in the first place.

So when my studio member shared a similar story, minus the yoga teacher component, about her history with the yoga practice and her needing to rediscover her WHY, all of the above started unraveling. Eight years of “doing” became unearthed. Eight years of never really knowing my why surfaced.

Seems kinda-crazy that it’s taken me eight years to get here, but hot damn, I have arrived.

I NOW KNOW MY WHY!

  • I practice yoga to feel whole, body, mind, and soul.
  • I practice yoga to prioritize my wellbeing.
  • I practice yoga to soften my predisposition to anger.
  • I practice yoga to be less judgmental of others.
  • I practice yoga to forgive myself and others.
  • I practice yoga to love my partner wholly.
  • I practice yoga to calm my nervous system.
  • I practice yoga to feel home in my body.
  • I practice yoga to declutter my psyche.
  • I practice yoga to expose what limits me.
  • I practice yoga to understand and respect my energy.
  • I practice yoga to connect with my creative nature.
  • I practice yoga to access my instinct and intuition.
  • I practice yoga to feel my inner essence, that inner divinity that lives within.
  • I practice yoga to connect with God.
  • I practice yoga to be a human being.
  • I practice yoga to not take my life for granted.
  • I practice yoga to love myself through the messiness.

These are MY WHYS, and while it took me eight years to declare them, I believe I always knew them. I believe the magic of the yoga system lies within the subtlest of seeds; seeds that are planted the moment we experience our first yoga class and continue to grow with each experience after that.

After eight years, I’ve come to understand that the yoga practice is not my workout, it’s not my solution to weight loss, it’s not a means of attention or approval, it’s definitely not just the asana, and it’s not my ticket to freedom.

Rather, yoga is my work in.

It is the journey inward, the journey to become my best self, the journey to reclaim my wholeness, the journey to support my evolution. Yoga is is my best friend, my therapist, my coach, my teacher, it’s my daily medicine.

It’s the framework I choose to live my life within.

Yoga is so much more than I could’ve ever imagined when I stepped into that hot yoga studio eight years ago, holding a Groupon, hungover, ready to throw up my tuna sandwich from earlier.

It has become my world and for that, I am so incredibly grateful.

Many of you reading this post have been here from the beginning and for that, I want to thank you sincerely. You’ve watched me grow up through and because of this practice, you’ve trusted me with your everything, and you’ve truly allowed me to live my journey. Really, thank you, there’s not enough words to extend my gratitude.

And many of you reading this post are new here and new to our yoga family, so welcome. This post is the perfect example of how we do things around here. We lead with transparency, vulnerability, and reality, even if it’s not pretty.

Now it’s your turn. You knew this was coming, yeah? 

Please gather your journal, a writing utensil, and the strength to answer the following questions.

  • Why do you practice yoga?
  • What is YOUR WHY? Like the real AF why, not your surface why?
  • Why do you keep unrolling your yoga mat?
  • What is your real drive? 
  • What is your yoga practice?

If you’ve been practicing yoga for six months or more, don’t skip this inquiry. Don’t skip the work. And if you’re a teacher, ooph, you probably need this more than anyone.

Once you’ve discovered or rediscovered your why, I would love to connect with you and your yoga why. Feel free to DM me on Instagram, tag me in a post or story, or maybe write your own cathartic, long as fuck blog post like I have.

Choose what works for you. Do the work. Find your why.

Allie, xx

Hey! I’m Allie.

I’m a self-growth student, freedom-seeker, yoga teacher and the founder of a tight-knit online yoga community: the Body Mind Soul Studio. I’m here to teach you how to transform your life on-and-off-the-mat with a holistic yoga practice.

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REKINDLE YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

If your practice has waned, if your yoga journey feels lonely or you like the way I share yoga’s teachings, then this is where you need to be. Join me once a month, for free, to practice yoga as a community.