This is a guest post by K.KrisLoomis.
I used to be full of excuses. Excuses for what? For anything, really.
I could find at least one excuse (usually several) for any chore or task I thought might make me uncomfortable or cause me to have to work too hard. Yeah, I was full of it, all right.
Then I began practicing yoga.
What does the practice of yoga have to do with me excuse-proofing my life?
After practicing and teaching yoga for a few years, I realized my excuses just didn’t fly. You see, in yoga, there are no excuses.
In yoga, you simply do what you can. That’s it. You come to the mat as you are and do what you can that day. No excuses.
Now, I’ve heard a lot of excuses over the past twenty years of teaching yoga and I can say, hands down, the number one excuse people give me for not trying yoga is, “I’m not flexible enough.”
Truth is, you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. Flexibility is not a requirement, therefore, it’s not an excuse. You become more flexible after you start doing yoga.
Trying to explain this to wishy-washy yoga-sitting-on-the-fencers over the years really led me to question the excuses I made in my own life for not starting something new. If they had no excuse, neither did I.
One thing I’ve always wanted to do was learn how to play chess. My excuse for not starting until I was in my forties?
I won’t be any good.
Yeah, I know. Lame.
What I tell my students is you have to practice a skill to become proficient at it. My students practice yoga, they become more flexible; I practice chess, I become a better chess player.
Another popular excuse for not doing yoga is, “I don’t have the time.” And I get it. I’m busy, too.
I hate to break it to you, though, but being busy is not a valid excuse not to practice yoga.
Yoga doesn’t require a lot of time to be effective, and the time it does require doesn’t have to be practiced all in one chunk. It can be sprinkled throughout your day!
Standing in line at the bank? Practice mountain.
Stuck in a traffic jam? Practice breathing.
At your child’s never-ending dance recital? Practice mindfulness.
Dropped something on the floor? Practice a forward bend on the way down to pick it up.
Kid acting out in the back seat? Practice a twist as you turn around to tell him “don’t make me come back there!”
By eliminating excuses, I have found ways to incorporate yoga into almost every aspect of my life, so when I am running short on time one day I can still fit my yoga in. I do what I can, when I can.
I use this idea in other parts of my life as well. I’m a writer. Want to guess what one of the most common excuses writers have for not writing?
“I don’t have the time.” (This excuse is a biggie everywhere you turn!)
Because I know through yoga that, “I don’t have the time,” is not a valid excuse, I deal with time shortages in my writing life by carrying around a little notebook with me wherever I go. Anytime I’m stuck waiting for something (airport, doctor’s office, etc.) I pull out my notebook and either outline my next blog post or brainstorm character possibilities for my next short story. I make use of the “found” time I have to put me closer to my writing goals.
I love ya, “tomorrow”
When I first started practicing yoga there were days I just didn’t want to get on the mat (I’m as guilty of laziness as the next person). My go-to excuse at that time was the old standby, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
I used “I’ll do it tomorrow” as a way to bribe myself into not feeling guilty for not wanting to practice yoga. I mean, I was going to do it…just not today.
Problem is, I can’t step on my yoga mat tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but it seems every morning I put my feet on the floor it’s today again.
Therefore, I can only step on my mat today.
I can only eat healthily today.
I can only ride my bike today.
I can only tell my husband I love him today.
I can only express my gratitude today.
Yoga has taught me the value of now. Living in the moment. Not waiting for the fairy tale tomorrow to show up.
A personal test
Last year, I was challenged to practice what I preach about living an excuse-proof life.
At the beginning of the year, I was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder. After a few months, putting my clothes on and brushing my hair became painful and practically impossible. I couldn’t fasten my seatbelt. Heck, I couldn’t even pick up my cat. So, you can imagine how this might have affected my yoga practice.
Because I have been practicing yoga for over twenty years now, I had become proficient at some of the more advanced postures, like arm balances and inversions. I love the peacock posture and had gotten to where I could get into a handstand without kicking up. I had mastered most of the headstand and shoulder stand variations and did a pretty mean mountain climber.
But after I became afflicted with a frozen shoulder, all these fun and challenging postures were suddenly off the table. And I became depressed. And my yoga practice faltered.
Luckily, I came across a quote from the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden.
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
After I read that quote I realized I had fallen back into an “excuse” mentality. I snapped myself out of it by reminding myself I already knew how to do this, how to live an excuse-proof life.
I couldn’t do a plank, but I could practice a modified pyramid and triangle.
I couldn’t do a handstand, but I could practice tree and hero.
I couldn’t do a headstand, but I could practice bridge and reclined twists.
I couldn’t do a shoulder stand, but I could practice a forward bend and its many variations.
I couldn’t do the full warrior, but I could practice all of the breathing exercises.
I decided not to let what I couldn’t do interfere with what I could do. Which ended up being a lot!
And, as my shoulder has slowly healed over the past year, I have been able to gradually add some of those more advanced postures back into my repertoire. But, if I lose them again I know I can still practice yoga because in yoga (and life!) you do what you can, when you can.
Read more on The Art of Yoga.
Kris Loomis is the author of How to Sneak More Yoga Into Your Life: A Doable Yoga Plan for Busy People and After Namaste: Off-the-Mat Musings of a Modern Yogini. Her debut novel, The Sinking of Bethany Ann Crane, will be released in the summer of 2018.
When Kris isn’t at her standing desk writing, she can be found playing chess, folding an origami crane, or practicing a Beethoven sonata on the piano. She lives in Rock Hill, SC with her husband and two cats.
You can find Kris at www.kkrisloomis.com, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on Medium.
*This post may contain affiliate links.