The last post examined the difference between the honeymoon phase of yoga and the learning curve phase of a new job. But it only examined one reason the honeymoon phase ends for yoga – the magic disappears. I definitely think that happens for some people, but I think there is something more, and something yoga teachers need to make more explicit.
The relationship analogy with yoga is interesting. It is also perfect. Yoga is a way to begin a relationship with ourselves. That is something we are not trained to do in most modern cultures. It is probably the most difficult relationship we will ever have, and it will define our relationships with others.
The honeymoon starts for a few reasons. First, yoga can feel really great! It is an incredible stress reducer. It can help alleviate pain and tension, including pain and tension we did not know we had. It is a great break from the craziness of the modern world. It is a moment of silence in our otherwise loud and intense lives. Of course there is a honeymoon phase! It is the only break some of us ever get.
But why would it then end?
First, the excitement goes away. When something stops being new, it stops being as interesting. Thus, while the wonderful effects of yoga remain, the excitement about those effects diminish. Second, it can be difficult to continue to get on the mat every day, or even a few times per week. Busy takes over again, and we forget how great yoga can make us feel on so many levels.
But there is something deeper, and it goes back to why the relationship analogy is so great. Yoga deepens our relationship with who we are. That can be wonderful, but it can also be frightening. Many, if not most, of us do a wonderful job blocking out parts of ourselves we do not like. We push them away, so we never have to deal with them. Instead of facing these parts of ourselves, we often just get annoyed with others who manifest them instead.
On the mat, or on the meditation cushion, we stop being able to run away from ourselves. Our physical blocks become apparent, but so do our emotional and spiritual blocks. For many people, that is the moment where the honeymoon phase ends. It stops feeling like paradise when we have to see ourselves in all our being-ness.
But just like any relationship, that is the moment where it is most important to keep going. That is the moment where we decide whether it is worth it to remain. We know there may be some hardships, but the payoffs are so, so much better. Knowing ourselves on our deepest level gives us the strength and courage to face all of life’s difficulties. When we know who we are, and when we have faced our own personal angels and demons, we know that what the external world sends our way, we can handle. We can handle it because of the tools we learn on the mat. First, thought, we have to learn those tools.
Thus, the honeymoon phase will end for most people. I know of no one who has practiced for more than a few months that has not had that day they just do not want to get on the mat. I know of very few people who have not laughed or cried on the mat. And I know of very few people who, after continuing to show up for the practice, do not thank themselves for doing it.
Yoga may not cure every ill we have. Some days it may feel as though it is doing nothing more than bringing them to the surface. But when they come to the surface, we can look them squarely in the face and deal with them. The island paradise feeling may disappear, but over the long haul, yoga helps us build our relationship with ourselves solidly enough to build our relationships with each other and the world.
That sounds better than a 2-week honeymoon to me. How about to you?
© Rebecca Stahl 2012, all rights reserved.