Go With the Flow

I’ve been doing yoga since I was 15 years old in some way, shape or form. While I admit that the physical part of things is what always brought me back, the combination of physical and mental with yoga does help to slow some things down with my head sometimes.

If I don’t focus, I fall.

I can’t always just go through the motions.

yoga

But through the years there have been short stretches where I just didn’t feel like doing it. My theory was that yoga was something that I had to be in the mood for to reap the benefits from, and since I didn’t depend on it as my sole form of exercise I hated feeling like I “had” to go through the motions.

 That would completely defeat the purpose, and each time I returned to the mat revitalized and ready to go.

Recently I had one of those stretches and completely stopped for a couple of months. While I was still working out—that’s never an issue—I just wasn’t feeling the yoga.

The truth of the matter is that I have no focus lately—not just for yoga, but for anything (but yay Twitter!) I’m flighty and flitting between this and that with a scattered attention span of about 30 seconds, and that’s not an exaggeration.

If I can’t focus, I fall—in more ways than one.

But I finally had the urge to do yoga again this weekend, so I popped in a DVD, got my “Om” on and came to the realization that with so many things:

“When I have to, it’s hard. When I want to, it’s easy.”

For example, sometimes I sit and stare at my computer screen, the blinking cursor on a blank white page either inviting me in or mocking me with metronomic consistency. When the words flow and my fingers find it hard to keep up with my brain, I’m left feeling like what I wrote was what I was supposed to write.

Other times there’s nothing, so I fill that space with frustration and pressure, two things that aren’t exactly conducive to productivity. But nothing can be forced that I’ll be satisfied with, and unless it’s work-related and mandatory, trying too hard defeats the purpose.

So while I was getting my “Om” on with my head tucked under my leg, my arm bent at an awkward angle and “REMEMBERING TO BREATHE AND RELAX,” I also remembered that I have to accept those times when things don’t flow.

That’s not to say I shouldn’t do the things I have to do—we all have obligations and it’s called being an adult. More times than not I have to just put on my big girl panties and do what needs to be done.

The fact I can’t focus on what I want to do or what needs to be done is frustrating and affecting things both online and off, so I’m looking into it. Probably maybe.

But I also know the things I enjoy should never become just something to cross off a list, done out of guilt or obligation. After all, motivation and creativity ebb and flow and usually happen spontaneously, not just because they were planned.

Remembering that—and TO BREATHE AND RELAX even though I’m either literally or metaphorically twisted up more than a Gumby doll— helps to bring me some peace.

When I have to, it’s hard. When I want to, it’s easy.

In other words, go with the flow.

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34 responses to “Go With the Flow

  1. So very true!!! I’m the same way with meditation. When I’m in the mood it is so easy, but when I’m not, my mind goes to all kinds of crazy places and I can’t calm it down.

  2. I’m not sure I get meditation. Is the goal to clear your mind and think of nothing? If so, I’m terrible of it. It does help me think ON things though.

    • I’ve never done meditation, simply because a) I can’t sit for that long and clear my mind and b) I just don’t really get it. I’m sure it’s helpful to some people though. For me, I would rather zone out with a ballgame ;)

  3. I LOVE this post. I get in moods where I can’t focus and do one thing as well. “When I have to it’s hard. When I want to it’s easy” resonates really strongly with me. I make myself work out four times a week even if I’m trying to find every excuse not to. And I find that within five minutes of starting, I’m totally happy and in to it. Same with my writing.

    I love all your posts, but this one reminded me why I adore you so. I seriously could’ve written this myself. Only not as well, and with the word “dude” in it at least twice.

    • I feel the same way with workouts, but I can still go through the motions if I’m not feeling it. With writing, I can start and get some notes, but I have to be into it to really produce something decent. I can’t always just go through the motions with that (personally, not professionally.) And dude, I edited out all the “dudes,” just so I could sound fancy.

  4. Really needed to read this today. I too love yoga but I am in a difficult position (no pun intended) they style I love is not taught in many places. My teacher moved her studio a ways away. Also, no DVD’s b/c it is a little bit obscure. Anyway, I think this is just an excuse for myself and I should just ‘put my big girl panties on’ and figure out a way around it. Thank you for the kick in the butt to remind me of that. BTW WTF position were you doing when you described your epiphany?

    • I’ve never actually taken a class in a studio, so I’ve relied on DVDs and Comcast OnDemand (which sucks lately, as they dropped Exercise TV and added in lame things I no longer use. Fail.) Anyway, maybe you can find something online or ask your teacher for suggestions? I also don’t know the name of the position I was in, so we’ll go with Revolved Side Angle with my head under my leg. Bryan Kest Power Yoga 2.

  5. As I was reading this, I was thinking how easy writing has been coming lately, and then I read your paragraph about blinking cursors and realized you were thinking the same thing. The one thing I’d add is that when things come easy, seize that moment and work like hell, because you never know when you’re going to lose it.

    • Exactly. I go through spurts where I can write two or three posts a week (that’s a lot for me) or get two or three features done for work a week with no problem. Other times it feels like I’m decoding Egyptian shorthand (which I don’t know how to do.) Go with the flow ;)

  6. I need to take your advice. I feel like this about so many parts of my life right now. Go with the flow and breathe is a little easier said than done.

    I’m a yoga dvd-er, too. I started so long ago, before it was popular, and there were classes everywhere. Then I took some classes, but no one compares to Rodney Yee. I took some classes that turned into one on one yoga sessions with the instructor because nobody else showed up (like I said, this was ages ago) and it turned me off classes forever! Nothing weirder than doing yoga one on one. The guy was a chanter too. Creepy.

    • That would be creepy, and I’m glad someone else jumped on the yoga DVD bandwagon before “yoga pants” took over the universe. I also have a couple Rodney Yee DVDs and also Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga. Those are my two go-tos.

  7. I have ADD, and I reach hyper-focus when it’s something I want to do, but even the smallest thing I don’t want to do requires a Herculean mental effort. Exercise is a thing I don’t like to do.

  8. I have heard people who really struggle with the mental aspect of yoga, partly because they are so wrapped up in the physicality (poses and breath). One of my friends finds the “relaxation” part of the practice the most frustrating. She is really physically fit (a marathoner) and she told me once her instructor asked her to stay in child’s pose for almost an entire practice to challenge her, and my friend said it was the hardest thing she’s ever done! I hope this story doesn’t seem random, but the first part of your post reminded me of it.

    This is one of the reasons I think meditation is so hard. The days we need it the most are the days where it doesn’t come naturally and is real WORK. It does. as I’m sure you know, get easier with practice. It’s kind of like taking wheatgrass shots (which I’ve never done). You know its healthy even though it feels unpleasant and you have to dig deep to make it work.

    I hope your summer is going well. I’m starting to get into baseball! Living with two megafans will do that.

  9. So well said Abby. I learned a quote some years ago and I try hard to remember it…
    “If you’re struggling against the flow, turn around.”

  10. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    I think that mantra fits most stuff in life. The only yoga I like is Jillian’s Yoga Meltdown which people are quick to inform me is not real yoga.

  11. This was great, and so true. It’s easy to pressure yourself into doing something you’re just not into, or to feel guilty for *not* forcing yourself to do it, and end up feeling totally dissatisfied and frustrated either way. Thanks for the reminder to go with the flow. :)

  12. I go through spurts with yoga. I’m either really into it or want nothing to do with it. It’s never in between. I’m actually like that with most things in my life. Whether it’s yoga, work, relationships, I’m either all in or nothing at all. I need to find a balance or just go with the flow :)

  13. “When I have to, it’s hard. When I want to, it’s easy.
    In other words, go with the flow.”

    Love that! And you’re right.

    Well, being a yoga person myself, I so hear ya, Abby! There are times when I feel really drawn to practice it on a regular basis, but then other times I almost forget about it. I can usually tell when I need to practice because my body AND mind AND spirit feel out of whack. And it’s amazing how much more “whole” I feel after doing it. I find it ironic how some poses will give me more trouble than others, like say, the ‘tree pose’ which is all about being balanced. And sure enough, when I’m NOT feeling internally balanced, I end up toppling over – HA!

    Love the little graphic you used in this post!

  14. That is advice I should follow. So many times lately, I just haven’t felt like writing. I haven’t been working on my book, and I have to push myself to post 6 days per week, when I used to post 7 with no problem. I’m going to drop back to 5 days per week; Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and see how that goes.

  15. I did/took yoga for about 9 months between 2007 and 2008. I loved it. other than pills, writing, and that thing that rhymes with hex, yoga is the only thing that’s truly helped with my anxiety disorder.

    I was usually the only dude in the class and was single during that time so there was that, too.

    seriously, I liked how yoga helped my body and mind.

  16. I went to a yoga class once. At the end, we all had to lie there and stare at the ceiling, breathing deeply and releasing all of our thoughts from the day whilst welcoming rainbows and fluffy bunnies and unicorns into our life yadyadayada.

    All I could think about, amidst the silence, was how funny it would be if someone farted.

    I didn’t go back.

  17. I love your first line. I don’t know if you worded it that way on purpose. “I’ve been doing yoga since I was 15 years old in some way, shape or form.” I tried yoga a long time ago and it was the “shapes” and “forms” that gave me the most trouble!

  18. Going with the flow can be so much harder than we expect! I feel this way about my big writing projects quite frequently.

  19. Popped in from SITs…I have such a hard time with that!

  20. The only yoga I’ve really seemed to enjoy is JM Yoga. And I agree with something you said in the comments earlier- it’s not yoga. It’s glorified stretching. And I know part of the challenge is relaxing your mind- but I just can’t get into it. I’m hoping one day I’ll have a moment and love it. Sigh.

    As for the rest of my life… well… it’s hard for me to slow down and not be thinking “surely I’m forgetting something right now, what it is?” I guess I should work on that part, too.

  21. I agree with you 100%. You can’t force things that come naturally to you. Just…wait for inspiration :) I have yet to try yoga.

  22. that is my most favorite part about yoga. It almost brings me back down to a sense of clarity on the fact that some things are just harder, but if you breath and relax, you can pretty much do anything. Great post :)

  23. Oh, whenever I come here: I feel less alone.

    I love that.

    Right? Not lying down? This is SO lying down, and I’m not paying for it anymore.

  24. Great post! You know I’ve been having this problem with the writing recently. So, I’ve just given it the heave ho for the moment. The other difficult place is with my horse. Her and I play head games with each other. We do great for a while and then hit a bump and are in a rut. It’s been very tough recently but I’m in the mindset to not give up. I keep wanting it to be a little easier. I’m hoping that will happen soon.

  25. They say that trait of doing things that are easy and not that are hard is a trait of ADD. Sometimes, I wonder if most everyone in the world has some form of ADD.

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