Yoga is Not a Checkbox Item

to-do-listI love lists. Really, I do. I have at least 8 things to say about how much I love lists, but I’ll try to keep it a little more brief than that.

Lists make me feel like I’m organized, even when I’m not. Lists break up what can feel like an unconquerable mass of tasks into reasonable parts that I can cope with. Lists help me allocate my time. Lists help me prioritize. Lists give me a visual sense of where I am in a day/week/month/job. Lists give me a sense of accomplishment when I can check items off.

Really, the only thing I don’t like about lists most of the time is that I haven’t figured out how to effectively use my iDevices voice recognition features to make and manage lists (maybe I need an app for that – got one?).

I’m also very goal oriented. I like to have clear goals and I like to meet them.

Sometimes, in my yoga life, these two things combine in a way that is not ideal. I have a general goal for how often I would like to do yoga in a week. And, sometimes, I can slip into the mindset that I need to “check off” yoga on my list of things to do. I start to want to get the yoga done just so that I can mark it off the mental list.

That’s a problem, in many ways. It causes me to be overly focused on the “get it done” aspect of yoga, so that I forget to pay attention to the “every moment” part of it. It pushes me to take yoga classes even on days when my body might not be willing or able to do so safely. It causes me to become anxious or angry when I have to miss a class. These aren’t very yogic outcomes.

Ultimately, doing yoga is a process. It is a doing, and not a done. The practice is ongoing, and not constrained to a particular class or a particular pose. It requires and helps us facilitate mindfulness and awareness to every moment and what is happening in body and mind in those moments (even the moments where one or the other cannot manage an asana class). Doing yoga can happen on days when absolutely no asana is done, and it’s certainly possible to do some of the physical postures without ever doing yoga.

So, I know that yoga is not a check box item. I struggle with it sometimes, but I believe it. And that belief, on most days, is enough to keep it off the to-do list and just in the to be.

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