I know so many people that would love to practice yoga, but can’t seem to make it work when it comes to fitting in into their routine. I can totally relate. After starting and stopping many times over the years, I’ve now been practicing consistently for 2 years, so I thought I’d share what has worked for me and hopefully you can apply it to your practice as well.
Here’s what I did to fit yoga into my life in a way that was practical and realistic:
1. I started with baby steps
I started with just one day a week. While I didn’t think one day a week would produce dramatic results, I really wanted to incorporate something more mindful and calming into my life. In previous attempts, I always aimed for at least 3 classes per week, then I’d fall short, get discouraged and eventually give up. Ironically because I was actually meeting my goals this time, I was feeling good about it, rather than beating myself up for not doing enough. That created a positive momentum, and gradually led to more classes. So just start with one class. That’s it. No big monumental promises, sweeping resolutions. See what happens.
2. I let go of the gym
Let me just say, I still go to the gym regularly, so I’m not advocating giving up all other workouts in favor of yoga. The letting go was in my head. I realized that I was mentally addicted to the idea that when I was at the gym, I was getting a “real workout”. I was trying to maintain my regular workout schedule and add 3-4 yoga classes on top of it, and I simply couldn’t find the time. Little by little I would substitute a yoga class for a traditional workout and still felt great, actually better. I began listening to my body and doing what felt right. Which meant sometimes more yoga and sometimes more gym. But I had to get over that initial belief that I was missing out on a better workout. (Not all types of yoga provide the same physical challenge – see my post Why I Love Yoga to see what type of yoga might be best for you).
3. I learned to ignore my ego
Nothing brings a consistent practice to an end faster than injuries. The lower back, wrists, and knees are the most common, followed by shoulders, hips and ankles. Why so many injuries from yoga? The main reasons are usually 1) incorrect form; and 2) moving into advanced poses too soon. We can get caught up in comparing ourselves to other people in the class, trying to “keep up”, and judging ourselves and our practice. It’s important to remember that the person beside you may have been practicing for 10 years, or maybe they don’t know what they’re doing or, perhaps they are creating injuries that will show up in a few years. The point is, you need to focus on where you are in your journey and what your body needs. ”How we show up on the mat, is how we show up in life.” So if you are competitive by nature and/or tend to be hard on yourself, this will show up in your practice. By being aware of it and observing yourself on the mat, you can prevent it from taking over your practice. Seek out teachers that correct form and are mindful of safety. You can also use blocks and modify poses. More