You’ve been a fan of Yoga for quite some time now.
Yes, you and Yoga have spent a lot of time together these past few months. At first it was an occasional class, nothing serious, just a bit of fun and a de-stress after a hard day’s work. Then you began to like it and wanted to see what happened went when you spent more time together. You bought your first monthly pass, and to be honest it’s been pretty steady since then. You spent the whole weekend together at a Meditation retreat, and all went blissfully well.
But now things are starting to get serious, and the C-word—commitment—is looming on the horizon. Are you really ready to wake up to Yoga every day? Resistance bubbles up, and even though your will is strong at night, by morning when it’s time to get onto the mat the distance seems too far. You know how good it’ll be, but how can you reach the fabled (distant) land of practicing every day?
Luckily, breaking habits that don't serve us any more is the essence of Yoga practice, and we simply replace them with new, better ones that take us where we want to go in life. Here are seven habit-changing tips that’ll help you get that daily practice momentum going:
Make It Personal - having a practice that is totally personalised to your needs and goals can make all the difference. Speak to your favourite teacher about a private session, or another teacher if they don't feel capable (preferably a Yoga Therapist who is trained to adapt Yoga to suit your circumstances. The yshoudlf start you out with a small practice and help you build up more each week;
Raise the Stakes - accountability goes a long way, so tell everyone you know that you’re going to do a daily practice for an extended period of time. Choose a period that’s achievable but also a bit challenging, and blast it out across social media so that you’ll look like a loser if you don't complete it. Start with 28 or 40 days, or something catchy, and once you get there make the bold move to extend it to 100 days or more. Raise the stakes by making a bet or competition with a friend, or get sponsorship and do it all for charity.
Create Habits of Support - set an alarm at your dedicated practice time each day, and don't switch the alarm off until you're standing on the mat. Explain to everyone that you've already told about it just how important it is to you to succeed, and ask for their understanding and support when you take that time for yourself. Find a practice buddy to do your practice with you every day, even if you only meet by Skype or Facetime. Create a dedicated practice space, maybe even a room that you only use for Yoga practice. Have your mat rolled out and everything else you’ll need (music, incense, candles and the like) ready to go.
Set a Goal - as well as your target number of days, set something qualitative or quantitative as your target, to measure your progress against. It might be the length of your breathing or being able to achieve a specific posture, or a certain length of sitting meditation. Keep a journal of your practice experience every day to mark your progress, remembering to look back every week as things don't happen overnight.
Keep Up Your Weekly Class - of the hundreds of people I’ve worked with on daily practice over the years, those who take a weekly class are the ones most likely to keep a home practice going. Group classes peak our inspiration and compliment our home practice, adding a social element of meeting like-minded souls and sharing their practice energy.
Have a Fallback Plan - there are always going to be difficult days where you can't self-motivate. For those days, have a go-to online Yoga class or recorded meditation practice that is easy-going, maybe restorative or relaxation-based, to tide you through to the next day when everything will be different.
Be Inspired - Read inspiring Yoga books and online articles, watch great teachers giving talks on YouTube, connect with Facebook groups, Instagram accounts and Twitter feeds that give you daily reminders why this Yoga thing is so amazing.
It’s hard work to keep up daily practice with our busy 21st Century lives. We need to do everything we can to build that practice habit and to keep it going. So the unwritten eighth tip is to simply do anything (and everything) that gets you on the mat.
Do you have any daily practice secrets to add in the comments below?