Life and the Yoga Mat: Paddling Upstream

Yoga practice is like an adventure into our own inner territory. It’s an adventure we may renew again and again as life presents challenges that derail our visits to the mat.

Maintaining a practice can be like paddling upstream against the current of daily demands and the needs of those we care for. It can take energy and determination we may not always have. Often old habits such as procrastination can impede our progress. Progress happens when we determine to mindfully chip away at the hard rock of our habits and create new ones such as a regular daily practice.

When getting the practice done feels like you’re paddling upstream or not even paddling, it can be helpful to revisit your personal goals, the reasons you do yoga. Focus on your yoga or spiritual goals is your rudder. Strong determination and planning your practice are the paddles that will help you move forward and get both feet on the mat and your mind on your mantra.

Ultimately it is in each present moment that we have an opportunity to begin again, wherever we may be off track. Use your rudder and your paddles to move you forward. Use your focus to keep your eye on the prize. The adventure makes us stronger when the paddling is upstream, and the prize is more precious when we achieve it through our own efforts.

Father Kevin O’Brien, a Jesuit priest, in his books on the spiritual lessons taught by St. Ignatius, says:
“As with any genuine adventure, we cannot know at the outset where we will end up…Though uncertain of where our journey will end, we know where it will begin: here and now.”

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