Motivation, Yoga

Forcing Yourself Onto The Mat

Have you taken time off? Started up a new regime? Maybe you’ve just come back from an injury or (ready?) a vacation and need to start back up. But how? How do you find the motivation to get onto your yoga mat or the martial arts mat?

You don’t.

I’ve said this about writing, running, and soon I’ll write a whole blog post about motivation and that you don’t need it and shouldn’t rely on it. But the same thing applies to yoga or martial arts and getting out there and just doing it.

Short and to the point, here we go.

Photo by theformfitness on

There will always come a time, especially after a break of any length where you have to have a little chat with yourself. You eventually end up forcing yourself back on the mat. Maybe there’s complaining, moaning, cursing, whatever, but you drag yourself back on. Maybe you have a great time, more likely not.

And that’s okay.

There’s this perception that after taking a break from exercise to heal, go on vacation, or tend to life’s many demands we’ll come back to the yoga mat or the martial art mat feeling rejuvenated, healed, happy. Magically, all our problems will be fixed.

If that were the case, you’d be exercising right now. We would take regularly scheduled breaks, eager to return. But that isn’t the case. Not at all, unfortunately.

Odds are, you’re going to step onto that mat and curse yourself. To make matters worse, you’ll probably have to force yourself onto the mat for the next week. It’ll probably suck. You’ll probably be mad most of the time going into it, happy coming out. And you’ll probably be frustrated that your body isn’t cooperating.

That’s part of it.

This is something I wish I knew years and years and years ago because it would have saved me a lot of trouble. I just came back to consistent running this week. Before then, I had taken a week off, then kept trying to run but was unable to because my body wasn’t working. Instead of getting frustrated to the point of quitting, I took a breath every time and dealt with what happened.

Yeah, it sucked a lot. So did coming back consistently to Aikido. But it was my body re-acclimating. It was everything learning to work together in a new way. It was my body still healing, my brain still processing various stressors.

All throughout though, I kept telling myself, “Just hang on. Give it two weeks.”

I’ve been through this enough times now that I know my personal period of adjustment after a break is about two weeks. I have to grumble through two weeks. I have to force myself onto my mat and even through the motions for two weeks before I feel better again.

I just don’t think that we talk about this enough.

There will be many days that you have to force yourself to do something like yoga. There will be a lot of hard starts. That doesn’t mean you don’t take time off. It doesn’t mean heal your body. It just means to prepare your mind for jumping into it again.

Get ready for frustration. Get ready to work your willpower. Trust yourself. Trust your body. Trust the process and I promise you’ll make it through.


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