Practical Steps to Get More Yoga into Your Life
Resolutions are often about trying to stop a behaviour you’ve labelled as bad or start one you’ve labelled good. They try to effect a change in one fell swoop, the cold turkey method. This might work for some things but other kinds of transformation are more incremental in nature. They require not the adherence to the elusive concept of willpower but rather the willingness to carve out time for the things that make you happier and healthier. For instance, yoga.
Indeed, when it comes to yoga, making time is probably the most important step you can take. Most people are not being forced to swallow yoga like bad tasting medicine. Most people are doing yoga because they like it. They are including it in their new year’s plan because they want to do more of it. So instead of focusing on a big pose (this is the year I’ll finally get handstands), set realistic goals (like doing yoga three times a week) and then do the planning that makes that goal achievable. It’s less ‘think globally’ and more ‘act locally’ since in yoga asana it’s not about achieving a result but rather benefitting from a process.
1. Go to Class
Where do you like to do yoga classes? Navigate to your favourite yoga studio’s website (Pro tip: if you don’t know, it’s the one that is most convenient to your home or office. Remember that realistic and achievable are our themes.) Get out your planner, your calendar, your phone, wherever you write down the important stuff that you have to do. Triangulate until you have a workable schedule of three classes a week. If you hate to get up in the morning, don’t try to make it to the 6 a.m. Power Flow class. You’re not trying to turn yourself into a morning person, you’re trying to do more yoga. (Conversely, if you are a morning person, go for it.) Get a membership or class card. You will save money and be more likely to stick to your plan because it’s already paid for.
Don’t underestimate the value of engaging with a community by frequenting the same classes. Getting yourself to the yoga studio on a regular basis is really the easiest way to up your yoga quotient. All you have to do is show up and the yoga will take care of itself. Inconsistency is the downfall of yoga. Doing a class here and a stretch there is not going to affect your body, your mood, and your life the way that getting to your mat at least three times a week will.
Pro tip: lunchtime classes. Gets you out of your office, away from your desk, breathing new air. You will come back recharged for the afternoon like no limp little salad will ever do. If your workplace offers yoga classes as a perk, you are so going. Lots of wonderful instructors teach corporate classes for extra income so you will probably get a great class.
2. Practice at Home
If you prefer home practice, getting on a schedule is really the key. It’s nice to have a little space dedicated to your yoga mat because it makes it just that much easier to make your way to it but don’t let your lack of the perfect zen setting become your reason not to practice. It’s not that big a deal to unroll your mat wherever you have room (and it’s a good exercise in keeping your focus on your mat instead of being distracted by external stimuli).
You don’t have to do your yoga at the same time each day or put any rules on it at all once you have it on the calendar. Set up alerts to remind you to get over to your mat when the clock strikes yoga. If you can just arrive at your mat and flow for 30 minutes, go for it. If you need some inspiration, take advantage of one the many available apps or video services that keep fresh classes streaming into your home.
3. Making it Stick
Once you get in the habit of doing more yoga, you won’t want to stop. But sometimes there’s a bump in the road that throws you off your stride. While the new year offers a sanctioned opportunity to start something new, it’s by no means the only time you can effect change in your life. You can do that at any time, any day of the year. If you wake up one morning and realise that you’ve let your yoga time slide, you can decide to fix that right then and there. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed and should give up, as often happens with more traditional resolutions. Come February, there’s always a lot of chatter about ‘did the resolutions stick?’ and guilty feelings if they didn’t. Ignore all of that. Instead, be willing to constantly readjust as necessary to keep the yoga flowing.