Years ago I took a self defense course. While practicing my kicks with my instructor we spoke about my daily yoga practice. He told me that my yoga was extremely disciplined which was not a way in which I had ever thought of it before, although at that point I had been practicing multiple times per week for about two years. This was before I became a teacher. I practiced so much because I enjoyed it so much, and still do, and suppose that I always will. I had found my thing.
In the years since that moment I have continued with my regular practice, although it does ebb and flow. Currently with being home more often than in the past due to all of my prior indoor yoga classes being cancelled indefinitely from Covid, I have more time than ever to practice. That does not mean that I am doing two hour Ashtanga practices, rather I practice anywhere from 10-60 minutes roughly 4-5 times a week.
I view my yoga practice as a form of bodily maintenance, I don’t mean in terms of appearance, but in terms of mobility and functionality. I also continue to practice and to push my edge in order to sharpen the saw and be able to teach new poses, sequences, and variations to students whenever I am back in a studio.
Roll Out Your Mat
As is often said, the hardest part about practicing yoga is rolling out your mat. Once you have taken the time to clear a space and roll out your mat you are almost halfway there since it is so easy to keep binging Netflx instead of practicing. One of the best things you can do, if possible in your space, is to have a dedicated yoga room or area so that it is that much easier to practice.
Consider Your Opportunity Cost
There are often times when I’m at home alone after work considering what to do with my time. First I try to get some work done in the house or garden and I usually walk Fred for both of our health and enjoyment. Then, when tasks have been done I weigh the choices of practicing yoga, reading, watching TV, or some other option.
I then consider the time commitment of practicing. I usually practice with Glo, a subscription platform that I have been using for a few years, it offers a variety of styles and teachers and the option to search for classes based on filters like length of time, teacher, area of body, etc. If I’m planning to do a 30 minute class then I tell myself how 30 minutes of my 16 hour waking day is nothing and that I owe myself that time and will feel better after practicing. Plus, with the search option, or if I’m doing a self practice without video guidance, I can choose to practice a chill hatha class if my energy is low or a challenging vinyasa class if I’m energized.
Don’t Get Down if it Doesn’t Happen
Whether you are a teacher or not (all yoga teachers ought to consider themselves yoga students) try your best to get on your mat and to not have negative self talk if you do not. Sure I feel annoyed with myself when a few days have passed and I haven’t done my asana practice, but I push those negative thoughts out of my mind and look towards tomorrow to get back into my practice. For years, early on in my yoga journey I would practice yoga in studio, for a week or so, or with a VHS (it was a while ago) and then I would fall off the wagon and wouldn’t do yoga for a few weeks, or months even. It wasn’t until a few years into doing yoga that I started to really practice very regularly and that was after finding a teacher and style that was a match and seeking that style out.
Don’t be overly strict with yourself. Maybe doing yoga once a week is perfect for your schedule. Once a friend asked how often I did yoga as a teacher, I told her 3-4 times per week and she said that made her feel less guilty about not doing it much, I suppose she didn’t think that that was very often, which made me feel slightly guilty that maybe I should be doing more, but I’ve accepted that there is no perfect amount, it depends on so much – time availability, energy level, mental health, etc.
And maybe yoga isn’t your thing in which case I would be very surprised that you read this far in, maybe your thing is running or swimming. Try to get into a regular habit of doing your thing that makes you happy and provides you with benefits for your physical and mental health. The world would be a much better place if all of us did that.