When do yoga teachers practice?

I love practicing yoga first thing in the morning. It wakes my body, smoothes the kinks, clears my mind. I feel energized. Energy begets energy, as they say. Now that I teach three mornings a week now, my practice is cut short (especially if I accidentally oversleep) on those days. Still, I’ve got it made. I am free most mornings to practice, and that no-brainer consistency works for me.

When I check out full-time teachers’ schedules, however, I see that most cannot practice at the same time daily. Their classes are scattered ’round the clock throughout the week. Such eclectic schedules are probably necessary to accommodate students’ varied schedules. Also, if teachers share a studio, no one can monopolize all 5pm classes (or whatever one’s preferred time might be).

But doesn’t this inconsistency wreak havoc on a teacher’s own practice? Sure, one can probably find a decent chunk of time here and there. But doesn’t that inconsistency drive one a bit crazy?

Of course, that’s life.

Maybe the trick is to practice when almost nothing can interfere, perhaps at 5am (yikes) or at a strictly protected afternoon time slot. Or maybe it’s good to shake things up day by day.

It seems that people vary in their preferred modus operandi for work (which I define as a chosen pursuit). Some prefer a loose schedule, allowing for spontaneity. Others find that consistency aids their creativity or productivity; ideas spring forth, ala Pavlov, at that designated hour.

Me, I tend toward the latter regarding things that truly matter to me. Otherwise they’re liable to slip to the back burner. So, whenever possible in my life, I’ll keep a consistent asana practice schedule.

Of course, I’m always on guard for complacency and laziness, two pitfalls of routine. In his memoir, The Summing Up, the great W Somerset Maugham* wrote:

You cannot write well or much (and I venture the opinion that you cannot write well unless you write much) unless you form a habit; but habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.

*I first discovered Maugham when I read the first paragraph of chapter 50 of The Moon and Sixpence and was compelled to read the whole novel. He is a sharp observer of human nature; his dialogue rings true; and his wit is ever amusing. My other favorite Maugham novel is The Razor’s Edge, for its vivid characters who make revealing life choices. One main character’s journey in Europe and India, seeking the meaning of life, would probably interest yoga types.

Image disclaimer: Illustration depicts sunset, not sunrise, in Kona, Hawaii, circa 2004.

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