Why you benefit from practicing when you don’t want to

One of the benefits I have found to practicing daily is that I sometimes practice when I don’t want to. You may think this seems excessive and certainly when I first started practicing I would just practice on the days I wanted to. After all I am doing this by choice right ?

I practice daily, 6 days a week and mostly I love it. It’s some time to myself in each day and it reignites my passion for teaching through my own experience. However as much as I love yoga, some days I just do not want to do it. However, I have never practiced and wished I hadn’t though so I now know I need to just get on with it. There are all sorts of reasons why I might not want to practice, if you have been practicing for a while you may find some of them familiar.

  1. I want to do something else
  2. I have to do something else – I have lots of work to do
  3. My body feels stiff/ tired/ not what I am  used to
  4. It’s winter, can’t I just stay under the duvet until Spring?
  5. My mind is on hyperdrive – note I usually don’t notice this at the time. It reveals itself as a resistance to the silence of practice.

I’m sure there are more…

There are times when you should not practice if you are really ill for example. We discussed this in my post about what to do regarding practicing yoga when you’re unwell. There are also times when you might have to do a shorter practice or a less intense one. Having a daily practice or however many days you are ready to commit to is about showing up. It’s about doing a gentle practice when you are tired. It’s about being patient with your body when it’s tight. It’s about allowing your mind to buzz in silence and sometimes it’s about giving yourself some time to be with your emotions when your mind wants to run and hide. Most of the time it will feel great and empowering but sometimes it will be challenging, and you will have to face yourself, to accept each moment just as it is.

Sometimes you get the most from the practices that you don’t want to do. They give you a chance to accept you are inperfectly beautiful just the way you are. They offer you a chance to find some space when you don’t want to, they reveal what you are hiding from and show you who you are. This is where the yoga journey really begins………..

Have you ever practiced yoga when you didn’t want to?  What was your experience?

About Helen Aldred

Helen Aldred practices and teaches ashtanga yoga in Liverpool. She loves to share and discuss yoga, as well as health and wellbeing. Follow her on twitter and join Ashtanga yoga Liverpool's Facebook community .


  1. Sometimes you have a good practice when you haven’t felt like it because you have got on the mat without any expectations and once it’s done you are glad you made the effort.
    There are some days when I get on the mat and realise it’s just not happening and do stop early, I think you are more susceptible to injury when you are stiff, the mind is elsewhere and you are going through the motions to some extent.
    I think because ashtanga practitioners have a set series which we try to plough through regardless, it can become an all or nothing, so on days when we really don’t feel like it we do nothing rather than something.
    I think it’s learning when you mind says no and when it’s your body is saying no, as Kino says the mind gives up way before the body.

  2. probably not what you meant but. After work, quick team drinks, 2 pints bitter on empty stomach, stabbing at door to get the key in, feeling pretty tipsy, decided I’d try just to see. be present to how the moment is, what you can-do on the day, etc. anddidnt expect to get thru 2 or 3 sun salutes. First few up down dogs hard, stomach contents sloshed around, expected standing balance problems but no! Once thru standing I was flying thru sitting sequence ! Carried on to navasana. Skipped inversion ! Felt great on inside, not sure how it looked from the outside !
    Did sameon other occcasions, wasn’t fluke, went well enough again

  3. Hi, I believe your site may be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic blog!

  4. I like it when people come together and share views. Great site, continue the good work!

Speak Your Mind