The Urban Yoga Den

…where it's all yoga.

Falling Off The Yoga Wagon July 22, 2011

Why does it take a sick day for me to realize I have totally abandoned my yoga practice?

For the past two days, I’ve been battling a sinus infection.  This morning, after sleeping 11 hours, I woke up, chanted mantras, said prayers, wrote in my journal, practiced breathing exercises and sat to meditate.  All of the fear, anger, distrust and resentment of recent weeks (due to a mugging and other trauma triggers) melted into pure, big-picture, heartfelt acceptance.  Everything made sense.  I felt peaceful and whole.

This collection of rituals is a simple 30-minute Sadhana (routine) that I like to practice every morning.  Today I realized that it’s been months since I’ve committed to these efforts on a daily basis.

In my experience, I can count on a daily reprieve from all kinds of “dis-ease” as long as I maintain my spiritual condition.  For someone like me – a trauma survivor who drowned pain and reality with alcohol for 25 years, and who has been undoing old patterns for the last eight years – that maintenance is essential to my ongoing growth away from my past and toward a healthy future.  Daily Sadhana guarantees that I will be liberated of self-centeredness, grounded in peacefulness and therefore available to serve others.

Yoga is the umbrella for all of my maintenance efforts.  During my yoga teacher training, we studied the six branches of Integral Yoga – Hatha (primarily poses, breathing, cleansing), Raja (philosophy, ethics, mindfulness), Jnana (reflection, self-inquiry, analysis), Karma (selfless service), Japa (mantra repetition) and Bhakti (devotion to and worship of a higher power).  In the Yoga Sutras, we hear, “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodhah” – yoga negates disturbances of the mind.  Therefore,  the goal of yoga is to cultivate a peaceful mind.  IY founder Swami Satchidananda believes, “There are many ways to reach the same goal. Whatever you call it, it is called Yoga.”

Indeed, it’s all yoga.

When I say that I have abandoned my yoga practice, I don’t just mean that I haven’t been going to class or practicing poses. I mean that I have not been greeting the day with chants, prayers, reflection, breath work, meditation.  I have not been ending the day by reading positive literature, making a gratitude list, praying for others.  In between rising and bedtime, I have not been serving as I could.  I have not been well enough to show up for others.  And I most certainly have not been surrendering to a higher power.

And so, right here, right now, I take the first step toward a solution and admit – I have fallen off the wagon.

“The origins of this phrase lie in the 1800s, with the temperance movement. During this era, many people felt that alcohol was an extremely harmful substance, and they abstained from alcohol while encouraging others to do the same. The term references the water wagons which were once drawn by horses to water down dirt roads so that they did not become dusty. Members of the temperance movement said that they would sooner drink from a water wagon than touch a drop of alcohol, so when someone failed to keep a temperance pledge, people would say that he or she had fallen from the wagon.”  –

For me, daily Sadhana is the “water wagon” that keeps me from falling back into all sorts of unhealthy habits.  And I intend to jump back on that wagon the moment I press “Publish” on this Post.  Because, with You as my witness, a publicly stated intention will be hard to break.

Wish me luck.  OM Shanti.


2 Responses to “Falling Off The Yoga Wagon”

  1. Freer Says:

    Isn’t it amazing how our bodies will simply not tolerate being ignored? In actuality, no component of our being, be it spirit, mind, emotion, or body will tolerate inattention for a sustained period of time. By design, however, our issues start at the soul level, trickle into the mental/emotional, and finally into the physical, so by the time we are physically ill, we have many symptoms of something seemingly vast that can be daunting to face. Most people’s mistake at this point is to focus on the symptoms and not the root of the issue. I think it’s fantastic and encouraging that you have had so much success going straight to the source and refreshing you spirit on a regular basis. I have no doubt that is the reason for your sustained wellness. I’m sure you still have some energy blockages that need dealing with because, to the best of my knowledge, you are still alive. I mean, it’s possible you are a vampire who doesn’t have the heart to drain anything except the occasional unsuspecting carrot. I suppose you could be some other kind of mystical immortal. But assuming you are a fantastic and loving human being, we all have blockages. We learn by identifying them and putting our whole selves into boiling down the seemingly insurmountable problems to their simplest forms. After all, though a threatening shadow cast on a wall can be intimidating, but one simply has to change focus to discover a mouse in front of a flashlight. Once we find that simple form of what is creating the dis-ease, we then consciously transform the vibration of that energy through intention and love. For a brief sojourn, we may be fortunate enough to experience blissful wholeness before our wonderful and meaningful lives progress in the paths that we chose/choose and throw something else purposefully out of whack. This and interacting with the other wonderful forms of life on the planet are how we better ourselves and possibly, why we are here. And yes, I’m a hippie. And yes, this message was probably more for myself than anyone else. Rock on, friend.

    • Holly Meyers Says:

      Oh, my dear Jeremy. Thank you for the laugh that I so needed on this groggy Saturday night, as I nurse my sinus-infection-turned-pneumonia! Apparently laughter is good for clearing the lungs; I was going to do some chanting for that effect, but now I’m coughing up enough bronchial blockage to heal the nation. Not to say that your comment is not a serious one – it makes 100% sense to me. And you are correct to assume that I’m not a vampire. Alive and kicking (and coughing). Love to you. h*

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