I’ve been practicing yoga for about 7 years and during those years, every now and then, I take short breaks from my practice. These breaks last usually around a month or so, sometimes longer. Here are some of the reasons I think taking a break from yoga can be healthy and allow for a deeper practice.
1. It gives me time to work through any frustrations or unrealistic expectations I put on myself to do certain poses. It’s easy to get wrapped up in working harder, doing a better job at poses etc… Taking a break allows me to set those feelings aside and go back to my practice later with a fresh perspective.
2. Taking a break allows me to go deeper into my practice. When I come back to yoga after a break, I always feel more connected and grounded then I did when I left. It’s my chance to start fresh and deepen my spiritual practice.
3. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I appreciate yoga so much more when I come back to it after a break. I revel in my warrior poses and the feeling of savasana after a good class. It’s like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen for a while. My heart is happy and full and I’m reminded why I love yoga so much.
The longest break I took was for one year. During that time, I explored other exercises and was busy figuring out my career. I experienced moments of guilt and I missed practicing very much but at the same time felt like it was the right time for me to take a break.
It had been about a year and I went to the ER with a horrific migraine convinced I had a tumor I was in so much pain. No tumor, but an MRI found herniated discs in my neck. My migraine lasted for 3 days and when I did recover I was in constant pain. The migraines would continue to come and go every few days. The most activity I could handle on any given day was about 2 hours of work and then I would be so exhausted and in so much pain that I would work on my laptop propped up in bed. I saw several doctors, all who gave me drugs that did nothing to decrease my pain.
A few months went by and I knew that I was not ok with this new life and that being on drugs was not something I wanted to do long term. I was depressed and felt so weak mentally and physically. I knew I needed to go back to yoga. I was nervous to go back to class because it had been so long. I wondered if my teachers would welcome me back with open arms and if the studio I had spent years practicing at, would feel the same.
I struggled through my first class as my body wasn’t used to it but I had tremendous support from my teachers and other students. I felt like I had returned “home.” I went 3 days a week and have continued to practice now for three years straight. Occasionally I may take a week off, missing it when I do but always reminding myself what a gift it is to go back to a practice I love so much and experience it with a new perspective. Sometimes that’s all we need.