During section semester last year, I really became focused on living healthier. Two things that became important to me were yoga and prayer. I have always been very inflexible and yoga helped greatly increase my flexibility (but I still had a long way to go), while calming me and helping me find balance in life. It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes I would find myself extremely uncomfortable as I tried to do a pose. Yet I stuck with the practice and I did gradually improve.
When I first started college, I was in the habit of praying every night. However, I fell out of the habit as roommates made it impossible to pray out loud. As it turns out, I get distracted way too easily to pray in my head.
I still worked on being active in my faith, though. I went to Bible studies, I went to church every Sunday, and starting in Lent last year, I read the Bible every day. I didn’t pray as much as I would have liked, but I did occasionally.
School got out, and I was determined to keep up with my good habits. That lasted about 3 weeks until I got my first full time job in a factory. I was exhausted at the end of the day, I always had cooking to do because of my diet, I had a relationship that I was struggling to maintain as we worked opposite shifts and over the course of the summer both of our love tanks emptied, I was planning a wedding, and I was taking karate classes twice a week. Yeah, I was busy (for young adult – don’t come after me working moms!), and I let a lot of good habits slide, yoga and prayer being two of them. I wasn’t even reading the Bible or going to church anymore.
I came back to school determined to do better. I was going to eat well (that went out the window as soon as I saw how limited my options were), exercise more (I’m gradually working up to where I want to be), get active with a Christian group on campus (going very well), and I was going to do yoga and pray much more. Eh….
One night after hanging out with the Christian group, I decided to write a note to myself: “Sun Salutations + Prayer” – a reminder to myself to do both of those things in the morning. The next morning, as I struggled through my simple half sun salutation and felt awkward praying, I had “my epiphany” (it wasn’t actually that exciting).
Over the summer, I managed to lose almost all of my flexibility. Stretching was now incredibly difficult and uncomfortable. I did not enjoy it, or yoga, like I used to.
I struggled to remember to pray, and when I did, I felt awkward. What do I say? Do I talk about my day? Do I thank him for stuff? I don’t want to ask for anything. “Hey, God, I know we haven’t chatted for a while, but if you could give me an A on my exam, that would be swell.” Yeah, that’s not right.
My epiphany was the connection of these two things. I had muscular and prayer flexibility. Just like my leg and hip muscles had tightened up, making yoga uncomfortable, my mind had tightened up, making prayer uncomfortable. I had these habits, and I didn’t just get out of them, but I actually reached a point where I had immense difficulty doing them again.
Yoga and prayer were both great for my mental health. They were soothing and stress relieving, yet now the difficulties they cause me remove their benefits.
Keeping up habits is hard, but it is even harder to get back into them. It is especially true when you remember the activity being easier than it is now. This should be enough motivation to keep up the activities, be it exercise, clean eating, yoga, prayer, or something else. But it is not always, so one must remember that it will get better. Yes, you regressed, but you will soon be back where you were before. Your body wants that and it remembers what it could do, so getting back where you were will actually be easier this second time.
I am not going to give up, and neither should you. I now recognize that yoga and prayer play similar roles in both my well being and my struggles, and I now know how to approach them. Do you have any good habits that you have slipped out of and need some encouragement to get back into?