7 Proven Ways To Maintain A Consistent Yoga Practice
One of the most common yoga questions I get, is “How do you keep such a consistent yoga practice?” I mean I get it. Especially if you’re a mom, entrepreneur, working + going to school, or any other life consuming traps; finding a minute to even BREATHE seems nonexistent.
Whether you're a beginner or a long term yoga practitioner, cultivating a consistent yoga practice can be difficult. Between making dinner, mommy duties, studying for school, running a business, endless laundry, it can be easyyyy to put our practice on the back burner.
I’m a full-time mom, committed to raising compassionate and conscious humans, so most of my time, energy, and resources are devoted to them. Throw in two partners (maintaining 2 homes), building a full-time business, keeping up with continuing education courses, and still, I find a way to keep my yoga practice pretty consistent.
I’m no Houdini, or magical fairy with more hours in the day than everyone else.
I’ve simply realized that my yoga practice is just as important (if not more important), as all the other things that make up my day. Most of us (especially women), walk around everyday pouring from an empty cup. Maintaining a consistent self-care practice goes a long way in our ability to take care of others.
May we all learn to fill our cups, before we pour another glass. Amen.
So, how can we cultivate a consistent practice that nurtures our cups to runneth over?
Here are 7 ways I’ve been able to keep my yoga practice pretty consistent for the last 4 years.
1. Embrace the journey, not the destination.
Sometimes we get so caught up in how our practice isn't progressing; how we still can't do a split, or haven’t perfected our pigeon pose. We even beat ourselves up because we don't maintain this ‘ideal’ yoga practice we've convinced ourselves we should have. STOOOOPPPP! Keep. your. ego. out. of. this. Your yoga practice requires nothing more than you simply showing up for yourself.
Remember why you started in the first place. Was it to become more flexible? Stronger? Cultivate a more peaceful and balanced life? Perhaps all 3? Write the intention for your overall yoga practice down somewhere you’ll see it on a regular basis (my favorite spots are the bathroom mirror or my computer screen). This will help you to remain consistent even on the days you don’t feel like it.
Whether you started this practice to get physically fit/flexible, find connection, gain peace of mind, or to live a healthier overall lifestyle, know that the you can only get there by embracing the journey, and not just the idea of the destination. Show. Up.
2. Make it a priority + actually commit to it.
What is that one thing you make sure you do, even when you can't seem to find time for anything else?! Now, put yoga in that same mental space.
Start thinking of your yoga practice as a priority and commitment. Make it a part of your daily routine, like eating, brushing your teeth, or taking the kids to soccer practice. Once you make yoga a part of your day, then it’ll be much easier to stay consistent on a regular basis. Not only making a mental note, but maybe even writing it down in your schedule. If you prefer going to classes, write them down in your calendar, or even prepay for them so it gives you more of an incentive to actually go.
We don’t find time for the things we deem important, we MAKE time!
And if you’re anything like me, you might want to go the extra step to use a calendar reminder or an alarm to let you know when it’s time for yoga. Oftentimes I will get super absorbed in whatever I’m doing and time will get by me if I don’t have that reminder set.
What if you woke up just 30 minutes earlier to fit in a few rounds of sun salutations and a 5 minute meditation? What if you started spending a little less time on social media; using that time instead to hit the mat? No it’s not always easy, but if we make our practice a priority, it will get rid of the excuse that we’re “too busy” to practice. I practice in my shower, in front of my coffee maker, in traffic, and even at my son’s soccer practice. So yes, there’s definitely time. What you haven’t done, is make it a priority.
3. Keep your mat rolled out or in eye sight.
The term "Out of sight, out of mind." is definitely relevant when it comes to keeping your practice consistent. For that reason, I literally never roll my mat up. It's always out as a reminder. I walk through the door, and there it is, as is the dog, waiting for me to show it some love.
It's funny, without fail, any yogi that's come over to my house, instantly gravitates to it. It doesn't help that it's filled with bright colors, and cool designs.
Even if you don't have the space to actually keep your mat roll out at all times, keep it in plain sight. Preferably where you spend the most time. It'll be that gentle reminder that it's always there; ready when you are.
4. Find a yoga community (or a few yoga buddies).
Think about it. No matter what it is, it’s usually easier to stay committed to something if you have other like-minded people doing it with you.
And let’s face it, the people that were in our lives before we started our yoga journey, just might not care that you’ve finally mastered that headstand or handstand to crow transition.
Having someone around that’s equally excited about our progress and breakthroughs is all us yogis really want, right?!
I was self-taught at home for the first year+ of my practice, so finding my Instagram yoga community was my yogic life gold mind. #ChaChing! Having the support of a liked-minded ppl enhanced my practice and added a very different dynamic. Every person’s practice is different, so there’s endless inspiration that always keep things interesting. With yoga buddies, you can share practice goals and yoga tips, find fun events to go to, and do online challenges together to name a few. Not only will you guys be having fun, but you’ll hold each other accountable. Having a yoga community means endless support, inspiration, and accountability.
Whether it’s at your local yoga studio, a meetup, or online...
FIND YOUR TRIBE!
Seriously. Start doing your yoga any and everywhere. You don’t have to wait until you get home to get on the mat, or wait until your scheduled yoga class on Thursday. Include your practice in your daily activities. Throughout the day, you’ll find me in some sort of yoga pose. From forward folding while waiting for morning coffee, sitting in a hip opener while blogging or helping the kids with homework, to sneaking in a few sun sals and handstands while cooking dinner. With my busy schedule, sometimes I have to get creative.
Remove the stigma that yoga MUST be practiced on the mat or in a studio, and find ways to get creative. Especially if you feel like things have gone stale and you're looking for ways to spice up your practice. Practice whenever, wherever, throughout the day. Don’t be shamed.
6. Shift your mindset: Look at yoga as a LIFESTYLE, instead of a hobby.
A good way to take yoga from hobby to lifestyle is to take the tools you learn on the mat, off, into the real world. Practicing “yoga” isn’t only restricted to an asana practice. (There’s actually 7 other limbs of yoga, but we’ll discuss that later.)
When I made a commitment to take my yoga practice OFF the mat into daily life experiences, everything around me changed. I’m more mindful of my actions, my thoughts, the way I speak to my children, my partners, and most importantly the way I speak to myself. My partners, children, and friend’s picked up on my shift in energy, and in turn began their own little journeys to betterment. I also started to notice how OFF I felt if I hadn’t practice. NOT good!
When yoga becomes your lifestyle, you’re in a constant state of evolving. Mind, body, and spirit are fed. It becomes easier to tune into our inner-self happenings. What's going on inside? “How am I feeling today. No, really?” “How can I be better today? Tmw?” How can I be a better mother, wife, friend, self?
Try taking the courage, strength, balance, and patience that is necessary to develop a great asana practice, into our ACTUAL daily lives. Actually doing the work is when things get really interesting- for the better.
7. Discover what YOUR yoga is.
When you began your yoga practice, you probably went to a yoga studio/class that your friend recommended, or tried the studio closest to where you live. If you started at home, you more than likely started with Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Bikram.
Take a moment to think about if you’re truly connecting to the style of yoga you’ve been practicing. Is it allowing you achieve the overall goals you set for your practice? If not, you might want to consider trying out a different style of yoga- or mix and match them, or choose none at all. More times than not, my personal practice doesn’t fall under ANY category of yoga styles, and I’m totally ok with that.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to do yoga. Experiment until you find the yoga that makes you feel amazing AND gets you excited to hit the mat every day.
Often times people choose not to practice at all if they don’t feel they have enough time for a 'full' practice. Don't get so hung up on the time. 15 min a day is better than no minutes a day. There is a plethora of 15 minute yoga sequences if that’s all the time you have for that day. Or simply hop on your mat and free flow; allowing your body to determine what it needs. Remember, there are NO RULES. You can literally make it your own. That includes how long you choose to practice.
While making your yoga practice a priority is the goal, try not to put unnecessary pressure/stress on yourself; that's the opposite of doing yoga, and the quickest way to sabotage your relationship with your practice. You don't want to create negative feelings around your practice. You're not a “bad yogi” if you don't practice every single day.. I practice- It doesn’t matter when, where, or how, because it’s MY practice. This journey is not a race to the finish line; it's ever-going, ever-changing, and ever-present.
Grow at your own pace.
So, there ya have it! These 7 tips have helped me stay consistent in my own personal practice. Hopefully, they can help you. Ultimately, I maintain a consistent practice of yoga and mindfulness, because I like who I am because of it. I do the work, because I'm loyal to the journey.
Share with me some of the ways you guys stay consistent below, or share your thoughts on the ones I’ve listed.