Many yoga students find it difficult to establish a regular yoga practice, even after doing it for years. After practicing for over 25 years and teaching for 20, I have spent time helping students maintain a life practice that is beneficial to them. So, how do you keep it up? In this article, I give you the tried and true tricks that I have learned, and I finish with a list of easily accessible online classes that will continue to help you build on the progress you have already made.
Life can get complicated. Work, stress, family obligations, home errands, and other tasks can get in the way of prioritizing your yoga routine. Because of that, it’s easy to think, “I’ll just take a week off…there’s so much to do! Then I’ll get back to it…”
However, I’ve found that in my own practice, while I can “get away” with a few days off without consequences, my stress and anxiety will inevitably start to rise. Ironically, running around doing chores (which I think will make me feel better) often ends up making me feel more frantic! When I take 30-45 minutes out of my day to practice, time slows down, I feel more grounded and at ease, and I’m actually able to focus better and accomplish more.
So, what is the first step in keeping your practice going?
Don’t believe everything you think! The ‘busy mind’ will constantly throw tasks at you that will seem more important than your practice. Trust me: this list is infinite, and crossing a couple of tasks off your list will only cause more to get added. A simple approach could be to establish a mantra that helps you let go of the constant internal chatter. Mine would look something like: “More patience, greater presence, less stress…”. When your busy mind starts to throw tasks at you, immerse yourself in your mantra, feel it shift your mindset, and let it wash away those distracting thoughts.
The second step in keeping your practice going: Shake it up! You naturally change day to day so your practice may not need to stay the same. Explore the wide variety of practice and styles that are on offer and keep your practice fresh. Ashtanga, yin, flow, hatha, restorative, meditation… on days that you feel a little tired, give yourself permission to do a yin, restorative, meditation or pranayama practice - those count as yoga, too!
The third step? Recognize the value of a super short class! Not all practices need to be an hour long. Even a 5 to 10 minute practice creates some much needed perspective and space in your day. Or, do a few short practices through the course of your day rather than one long practice, and experience the benefits of weaving your yoga practice through your daily life.
The fourth step? Create a dedicated practice space. You don’t need to have a fancy yoga room, but you may set aside a corner in one room to place your mat and perhaps a candle or other calming objects. By setting aside a special space, you are telling your mind that your yoga practice deserves to take up some time and space, everyday. The more you infuse that space with the energy and attention of your practice, the more of a resource it will become for you over time.
Finally, put your practice into your calendar and plan ahead (take a look below for a suggested schedule below to get you started!). Sometimes having to decide what to practice in the moment can feel a little overwhelming. If you plan ahead, it will be easier to start the class before your mind starts coming up with ways to wiggle out of it! Also, by putting your yoga into your schedule, you are helping to proactively make your practice a priority.
To get you going, below is a suggested schedule for practicing yoga three times a week. I’ve included a variety of DoYogaWithMe practices and styles to give you a lot of options. Feel free to switch them around depending on how you feel day-to-day.
- Practice 1: Open Your Heart To Joy in Your Body (28 min)
- Practice 2: Evening Wind Down (19 min)
- Practice 3: Connection: Body (40 min)
- Practice 1: Slow Power Flow: Creating Space (40 min)
- Practice 2: Morning Meditation and Stretch (23 min)
- Practice 3: Integral Practice for Heart Opening (63 min)
- Practice 1: Yoga for Upper Body Tension (45 min)
- Practice 2: Yoga for Lifelong Strength (24 min)
- Practice 3: Yin Yoga For Spine Health (56 min)