Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Yoga After The Thrill is Gone

The thrill is gone

Of course it is.

The definition of a thrill is temporary excitement, usually experienced for the first time. The definition of the thrill is that it’s going to be gone soon.

The work of a professional isn’t to recreate thrills. It’s to show up and do the work. To continue the journey you set out on a while ago. To make the change you seek to make in the universe. Seth Godin


We are well into the New Year and resolutions are flying out the window. Maybe one of those is your yoga practice. The work happens when the thrill is gone. When the excitement dies down, all the demons that were pushed aside by elation, are there waiting. You can deal with them or push them aside with the next activity, the next new yoga teacher, the next new yoga workshop, the next new yoga style. You can push them aside  by practicing faster, making it hotter, or turning the music up louder. It works…temporarily.


To use Seth Godin’s words, the work of a yogi is not to recreate thrills. It is to show up and do the work. To continue the journey you set out on. The journey to the Self through the Self.

Recreating thrills creates addicts not yogis. Nothing beats that first high. Drug addicts become addicts trying to recreate it. An addiction to yoga asanas is better than an addiction to meth no doubt, but still an addiction and addictions depend on thrills. Yogi Satchidinanda had this to say about choosing a yoga practice/object of concentration.

“You are not going to cling to the object but just use it as a ladder to climb up. Once you have reached the roof, you leave the ladder behind.”

“Anything can take you to the goal, because you are not concentrating on the object for the sake of the object but for the sake of your goal. The object is only a symbol of that. We should always remember this.”

One of the reasons yoga is ritualized is because the thrill is going to go.  When the infatuation period is over, the dedication to the ritual of daily practice keeps the connection physically while we regain it mentally and spiritually. It works the same way that marriage does…for some people….LOL.


One of the most important things you can do, on the path of yoga, is to maintain a consistent practice.


These mental modifications are restrained by practice and non attachment

Of these two, effort toward steadiness of mind is practice.

Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.-Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Book 1 vs 12-14


The thrill is a mental modification. It falls under the mental modifications, mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, of misconception, verbal delusion and memory. There is nothing wrong with having a thrill. The problem is when the thrill is mistaken for the goal. Jean Marie recently wrote a perfect post where she talks about how she totally wants to finish second series, but even as she is working on this goal, she still uses her yoga to reveal patterns within.

The  ability to experience the world, without losing the connection within, is yoga.

The restraint of the modifications of the mind stuff is yoga. Then the seer abides in his own nature.- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Book 1 vs 2- 3

Rock that handstand, work on that bind, get those abs, work your way through 6th series.  Just don’t lose your connection.

What to do when the thrill is gone?  Get on your mat anyway. Ritualize your practice. Set your clock and go.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.


  • Roxanne Devaney

    Thank you! This message could not have come at a better time. Last summer I successfully completed a 200 hour Yoga Instructor program. I lived off the excitement of that for months and was committed to my practice. However, as much as I hate to admit it, the thrill of those months is definitely gone and I find myself back where I was prior to my training, struggling to stay committed to my mat. I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, but your message today has reignited that desire to go back to my mat.

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