Your Yoga Practice: Avoiding the "When I Do This, Then I’ll Do That" Mentality

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself, "When I do this, then I’ll do that."

I usually do that when I’m not really interested in the "that." Or, when I’m concerned with how I’ll be received wherever "that" is or whatever other reason I have that holds me back from the "that."

Most of the time, I follow this resistance with some sort of negotiation or deal making with myself, trying to get myself to do "that." And that’s when the "when I do this, then I can do that" bargaining kicks in.

Always trying to justify and reason with myself that it’s better to wait until...

The thing is, "that" is generally in my best interest, but I’m oftentimes not willing to try. And when I’m successful in making the deal with myself, I usually don’t follow through. That’s because I’ve set the expectation and somehow know it will be difficult to reach.

Often, the thoughts that run through my mind and impede me are, "I won’t be able to do what I used to do," "I’ll never be able to do it right again," "What will other people think when I struggle?" or "I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’ll embarrass myself."

I’m not talking about those situations that truly require or need the "when I do this, I’ll do that" clause. Of course, you should save money to be able to purchase a big-ticket item. You should probably study before you take a test. And if you’re injured, you should get cleared by the doctor before you resume an activity.

The "When I Do This..." Mentality and Your Yoga Practice

Once people learn that I’m a yoga teacher and a budding yoga therapist, they often share their past and current experiences, entertaining me with tales both scary and amusing. And throughout those stories, I hear a variety of reason why they don’t do yoga.

The predicament is that, in general, these people know there are benefit from engaging in a regular yoga practice, but for a variety of reasons, they don’t commit to it.

Usually, the biggest reasons are:

  • Expense – It can be expensive to join a studio. However, alternatives such as spas, gyms, and clubs offer yoga classes at lower rates. No matter, you find the teacher that speaks to you, even if it takes a few tries before you make the connection.

  • Time – It doesn’t have to be 50-60 minutes; it can be as little as 10-15 minutes, 3-5 days a week (especially a home practice). It’s your attention, your intention, and what you want from your practice.

  • Experience level – Everyone is different. What is easy for one can be difficult for another. I see this all the time regardless of how seasoned a person is.

  • Dislike of a certain style of yoga – There are many styles of yoga being offered today. Hatha, gentle, Viniyoga, restorative, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Therapeutic, Kundalini. Some styles target specific areas of the body, different body parts. Other styles that are more meditative, almost anything you can think of. Just like teachers, the right style takes time to find. Mixing styles, based on what you need, can be helpful.

  • Fear of judgement – Please understand that the only person judging you is you. As a yoga teacher, I only care that you are safe in a posture. How you look in that posture will depend primarily on your body.

I can’t tell you how often people have told me things like, "I’ll come to class once I get a little looser," "When I lose 10 pounds, I’ll be back," "When I learn to breath, I’ll give it a try," or "When I master the postures, I’ll be there." More times than not, though, I’m still looking for these persons. And when our paths cross again, there will be other reasons and conditions that have yet to be met.

Stop the "When I Do This..." and Do What You Like

Of course, it’s the individual’s right to choose what to do with their time and money. I’m not trying to dictate. There are many options available to us all what to do with our resources.

What I’m suggesting is that we get real about things and not put conditions on what we’d like to do. If you want to come to class, come to class. If you want to have a short routine at home, have a short routine at home.

Don’t let the excessive reasoning creep in. If you need to make a deal with yourself, then set the condition to something you can attain more easily. It’s not a perfect world.

Remember, all yoga is good for you. But don’t let anyone yell at you, make you feel bad, or hurt you. Search for a teacher, studio, gym, or routine like you would for a car. Take a test drive and see if you connect.

Get rid of the "when I do this..." mentality and just do "that"!


YogaDavid Ashby