Hi everyone! I want to share some tips with you this month about staying consistent in your yoga and meditation practices. For a lot of us, we’d like to practice more, but life just gets in the way. Trust me, I’m the king of excuses so I’ve heard and said them all. We all know that we feel better in our minds and bodies when we’re consistent in our practice, but sometimes it just slips between the cracks of our lives.
For me, part of why I started Suan Sati was to push myself to be more consistent in my practice. I wanted to surround myself with a positive community of practitioners to give me an extra boost on those days when I’d frankly rather not get on my mat. Teaching also keeps me coming back to my mat day in and day out. If I’m not regularly practicing, I feel like I’m letting my students down by not bringing something fresh and embodied to my classes. I’m also concerned I’m going to embarrass myself by completely forgetting how to do something basic, exposing myself to be a fraud.
If you don’t have the push of being a teacher to keep up your personal practice, then what keeps you on track? I’m in this boat currently as my teaching schedule is pared way back. And yet, I’m more consistent than I’ve been since I first started practicing. How’s that? These six tips are what help me get on my mat (almost) everyday.
- Keep the duration manageable. Sometimes we set these lofty goals like practicing 2 hours per day, 6 days per week. When we eventually start to fall off because that’s not practical in our lives, we are at risk of giving up the practice because we can’t hit unrealistic goals. Start with a manageable duration, and once it becomes a habit, then you can increase the length.
- Modify the intensity as needed. Some days, I wake up and I just don’t feel like practicing. Instead of skipping, I’ll do a shorter or gentler class. I’ve never regretted practicing, I’ve only regretted not practicing. I feel especially proud of myself on those days when I overcome my resistance and get on the mat instead of skipping practice. So take it easy on yourself if you don’t feel like doing a 90 minute level 3 power flow every day. A 10 minute gentle flow is still way better than nothing.
- Designate one place in your home as your practice space. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do other things there, because not everyone has a lot of space in their home. Set up your mat/cushion in that space, and keep them easily accessible so that you can just walk in and practice right away. It may be helpful for you to decorate that area with things that remind you of your practice, like little statues, an altar, a candle, etc. Every time you walk by, your space will keep your practice fresh in your mind.
- Subscribe to an online yoga platform. I use Glo, others like Down Dog, and there are plenty of great classes on YouTube! When I make the decision to practice, I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do. I just pick a class and press play. Reducing the amount of steps and decisions we have to make in order to practice will reduce the number of offramps our minds can create. I still think it’s useful to go into a studio at least once in a while, but for my everyday practice, I mostly rely on apps.
- Track your progress. It’s highly motivating to look back and see how you’ve been consistent in your practice. It can be helpful to use a calendar or an app to mark which days you’ve practiced this week/month. This way, it’s easy to see how often you’re practicing. I use the Insight Timer app to track my meditation streak, and I get a little dopamine hit when I see that my streak has been unbroken for a long time.
- Reward yourself! This is an age-old psychological mechanism to get your brain to build a new habit. For many of you, simply the good feels you feel after a class are enough to keep you coming back. However, it doesn’t hurt to turbo charge this with something additional like drinking your morning cup of coffee/tea, taking a hot bath, or dabbing some essential oils after Savasana to stimulate the reward center of your brain and build a positive association with your practice.
Here’s an article about rewards and building habits if you want to dive deeper.
Thanks for reading this month, I hope it was beneficial for you! Enjoy your practice everyone 🙂