A bit of yoga is better than no yoga at all. You might think that doing yoga once or twice a week is enough. Yoga is a way of living, it is not just a physical practice. It is a way to achieve happiness in your life. Is it not worth a bit of dedication ? By practicing daily, you will progress much faster than by practicing sporadically. Yoga will become part of your life and the teachings of yoga will start tuning in with your breath, it will become something natural for you.
If you are starting in your yoga journey, you might find it difficult to integrate yoga in your daily routine. Don’t worry, you are not alone. It can be challenging to navigate between your professional life, your family life and your social life, but it is worth giving yourself time to look inwards and switch off from the hecticness of life. Here is a very practical guide to help you to gain consistency in your yoga practice.
1. Set yourself a schedule that is achievable
Sit down and think of all the things you need to do in a week. Do not ommit anything. You will probably need to work, commute to work, do grocery shopping, clean your house… You might have to pick up your children for school, help them with their homework. You might usually spend time chilling in front of the TV, reading a book… You will definitely need to eat, wash yourself and sleep. Just list everything on a piece of paper and write down your typical weekly schedule.
Take a look at your schedule and try to see if there are holes were you could be practicing yoga. It does not have to be an hour per day. You might only have 10 or 20 minutes. It’s okay. Be realistic with your goal. If there are no holes in your schedule, you might need to reduce the time that you spend doing other things. For example, if you are used to watch an hour of TV in the evening, you might want to reduce it to 30 minutes. Just make sure you to not reduce your sleeping time, because you it is essential to rest. You are not going to get any benefits in exhausting yourself.
Set a time everyday for your yoga practice. Ideally it would be great if it was always the same moment of the day for everyday of the week but it might not always be possible. And it’s absolutely fine. Some days you might have less time that others and it’s okay as well to have a longer practice some days and a shorter one another day. Just make sure, that you make a bit of time free every day for your practice.
When you think of your schedule, I think it is very important to allow yourself some free time for whatever might comes up inexpected or just to do the things that you like doing, just to chill alone or with your loved ones. Do not overdo it, that is not the point of it.
2. Get a room for your practice
If you have a free room in your house for yoga this is great, then use it. Lay down your mat, make up a cosy space that is just for you. That being said, you might not have the luxury to have your own yoga room, but this should not put you off. Just make sure you have a space at home where you can be undisturbed during your practice, wether it is your bedroom, your living room, your garage, your backyard… Everything works as long as you can lay your mat in there everyday for a while.
I think it is important to create some kind of ritual, something just for you that makes you feel good and makes you want to come back to your mat. You might want to put a few candles around, decorate it a bit, whatever makes you feel comfortable. I personally like to burn a bit of incense a bit before I start my practice, so that my sense of smell becomes as involved as my other senses during the practice.
3. Make use of the wasted time in your life
Yoga is not all about the postures, it’s about getting to know yourself better. A good way to start is to focus on your breath on your mat but as well when you are away from it. Whenever you get the chance, draw your attention inwards. Wether you are standing in line, in public transports or in the waiting room at the doctor, make use of the wasted time in your life and practice mindfulness. This type of excercice of concentration can be practiced anywhere and it is a good way to recenter on yourself and get mentally prepared for asanas and meditation.
4. No bullshit
Whenever it is time to get down on your mat, do not make up excuses. If anything unplanned comes up, you have made sure that you have extra time in your weekly schedule for these kind of situation so do not skip your yoga time.
You might feel down or unmotivated and use it as an excuse to not practice, but that would be a mistake, because the chances are that you will feel much better afterwards. Even if you have physical impairments, you can work around it and bild a gentle practice that do not strain any part of your body that is in pain. Or you can even just meditate, but to not skip it altogether.
You have commited to your yoga journey, so do not let the little voices in your head take you away from doing something good to yourself.
5. Set yourself a target
A good way to start practicing daily is to set yourself a short-term goal. Some people say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. This has not been really backed up scientifically, so it might take you a bit longer to really feel the need to get down on your mat every day. But regardless wether you decide do go for 21 days or a 30 day yoga challenge or a particular pose that you want to master, tell it to yourself and keep track of your achievements.
Whenever you will reach your goal, you will inevitably feel proud of yourself and this is going to motivate you to keep going. Then set yourself another target and so on. One day you will no longer need to have any type of external motivation. You will feel the need inside of you to get down on your mat. It will have become a habit.
6. Remind yourself why it is important for you
Whenever you feel lazy, remind yourself of why it is important for you to practice. Remember how you feel after your practice. Inside of you, you know that it will be doing yourself good and that you will inevitably feel better afterwards.
You might want to deal with difficult emotions or to get in touch with yourself. You might think of want to get stronger, more flexible… Whatever it is keep it in mind. You might even want to write it down and put it up on a wall and everytime you fell unmotivated, take a look at it and it will keep you going.
7. Tell the people around you
You are practicing for your own good, that does not mean that you should keep it secret. Tell the people around you. First of all because they should know that they should not disturb you whenever you practice and secondly because they might be able to motivate you, when you do not feel like practicing. They might as well notice how much improvements you are making as a person and let you know, which will be an additional boost of confidence. You might even be able to inspire people to start their own yoga journey.
8. Do not skip meditation
Take some time to meditate when you practice. Skiping meditation would be a mistake. You might want to pratice only for physical reasons, but you will progress more physically if you always take the time to tune in with yourself. Even if you are in for a short practice, always take a few minutes at the end of your asana routine to sit down and focus on your breath.
Even if only for a couple of minutes, it will be beneficial on the long run. You will slowly learn to quieten down the thoughts that push you down and this will increase your motivation overall for doing things that are good for you.
If you want to learn more about meditation, I encourage you to click here.
9 . Keep on learning
In order not to get stuck in your practice, keep on learning. Think of yoga as a path to self-love, a journey of self exploration. Don’t be static, try to always challenge yourself. Try new poses, learn about alignments, learn about the philosophy of yoga, pranayama… This will avoid you from getting bored or feeling stuck. Yoga is all about learning about yourself. The more you learn and the more you will want to know more.
There are many ressources about yoga all over the internet, a lot of books, there are great teachers out there that can help you to progress in your own journey. Keep on being curious and you will no longer want to skip your daily routine, once you realize there is an entire universe inside of you waiting to be discovered.
10. Do not be too hard on yourself
Dispite all the advices that I mentioned, do not beat yourself, if, once on the mat, you realize that you cannot practice. Do not be too “military” with yourself, do not force yourself into some poses which you are not ready to attempt. If you find yourself in the middle of your asana practice assaulted by negative thoughts and you feel that you really cannot. It’s okey. At least you have tried.
You do not want to end up frustrated. Let go of the feeling of guilt. Whenever you feel you cannot go further, accept it and stop. Sit down and meditate. This is as well yoga. It’s all about learning about yourself and your limitations. Most of the time our limitations are in our head and when we acknowledge them, we can move forward.