So many of us feel that there is just not enough time in each day, or maybe it is that there is plenty of time, but also plenty to do that ends up occupying that time! We each have our own list of things that need to get done in a given day and those lists can often leave us feeling over-scheduled, overworked, and rushed.
How then do we attempt to fit something else in, something like a yoga or meditation practice, and how do we do it in a way that brings a sense of spaciousness?
The practice of yoga is based on a lineage and philosophy that is thousands of years old. One of the most important guides to practicing yoga is The Yoga Sutras, a compilation of 196 short verses or sutras shared by the Sage Patanjali. In this guide, we learn early on that in order to experience the benefits of the practice in mind and body our practice must be made firm. This means that the practice takes place with regularity, over a period of time, and with earnestness. This is a very important piece of information when starting out on this journey as we all do so with the intention and hope of experiencing the benefits!
So now we have the framework or understanding that our practice needs some consistency and will unfold over time, which requires commitment and patience from the practitioner. These noble qualities actually become one of the gifts of the practice as they begin to show up in our lives too. How do we now begin to step onto this path that is asking for our commitment and patience? I would like to offer 3 supportive pillars that help me to stay committed to practice, and that I think would be helpful to others too.
1. Create the Space
This is actually a 2-part practice that works in the realms of time and space.
- First is the physical space, there is something about making a space in your home for your practice that will help you be more dedicated to the practice itself. When we put time and energy into creating something it adds a devotional quality to which our mind and body both respond to. Setting up a space where your mat can be laid out, a place you are deciding will be your practice space is meaningful.
- Second, you have to create the space for your practice in the realm of time. This can be the tricky one for many of us and I often hear, I just don’t have time. When we are honest with ourselves, that statement is simply not true. We have time, we just choose to prioritize that time in a way that might not include yoga. So, we must choose if yoga is to be a priority, and then where that will get scheduled in. We may need to move other priorities around, or remove some to make space for yoga, and this is something we can do. My dear friend and Mentor, Mary Prefontaine, has taught me that we have 3 choices in our priorities each day. For each one, we can hire it, fire it, or do it. Hire means finding a way for someone else to do that thing for you. For example, I can ask a fellow mom to drive the kids to soccer Monday night, and I will pick them up which buys me 45 minutes of alone time at home to practice. Fire it, this is the decision to remove something from the priority list, on Mondays, I don’t do the laundry, make the dinner, or do the online work so that I have a pocket of time. Do it, this is the choice to simply get something done on the list. It is an interesting exercise to sit down and write out your list of priorities for a given day, and to put a H, F, or D next to each one!!
2. Plan Ahead
I have discovered something about myself that helps me stay consistent and committed to my practice and to other things in life. If I schedule it in, it will happen! When I schedule my practice into my online calendar ahead in advance, the same way I do for work and social commitments then I am much more likely to feel I have time and energy for that practice. It also sends the message to my subconscious mind that this thing is important enough to put into the schedule. Choose a time and a frequency that works for you and then put it into your calendar a month in advance. Honor that time and start to fill the rest of your calendar around that.
3. Practice Without Expectation or Limitation
Now that you have created the space and time and are showing up on your mat, we need to look at how we show up for ourselves. Too often when working towards an intention or a goal people end up quitting because they don’t feel successful. Our negative brain bias is set up to criticize and shame ourselves for not meeting an expectation we set up, a bar we think we should be meeting. Being criticized or shamed does not feel good so often we start to feel discouraged in the early stages of starting a practice simply because we are being too hard on ourselves. As an experienced yogi, I now show up on my mat without expectation or limitation. I don’t expect that I have to do every pose perfectly, or that I have to practice for a certain amount of time to feel good about having practiced. That freedom then also allows me to not limit myself each time I practice, and I might surprise myself with what I am able to do. In the end, every practice feels successful, and I feel encouraged to come back to the mat.
Yoga has been an incredible tool in my own healing, learning, and personal evolution. I am always trying to help others find ways to incorporate yoga into their own lives in hopes they find the same benefits. I hope this helps you to bring yoga into your life in a meaningful way so you can start to see the gifts of the practice show up in your own life.