- Tips for a daily yoga (home) practice part 3 -
Would you like to build a daily yoga practice, but have you not succeeded so far? Often there is another habit in the way. This blog helps you to create clarity to find your way.
WHY you want to practice yoga daily is important
Unfortunately, you won’t be inspired and motivated every day. Yes, you can cultivate inspiration. For example, by using an inspiring yoga quote, yoga journal or yoga book every day. And still, you will face days where you don't feel inspired and motivated enough. That doesn’t mean that it is not possible to still practice yoga daily.
However, it does require something that goes beyond inspiration and motivation. Your WHY. A ‘why’ that is so clear is that your 'why now' is so clear that you wouldn’t want to procrastinate.
So what is the reason you want to practice yoga? And what is the reason for that? And the reason for that? Ask this question so many times until you feel it’s crystal clear to you and a stronger reason than all the things that would challenge the time on your yoga mat.
I recommend to write down this reason. Preferably somewhere you would see regularly. For example in your Dailygreatness yoga journal.
If you need to make the decision each day again whether or not you are going to do your practice, there is a way out each and every time. If your WHY shows that you want to practice yoga every day, it also takes the decision to actually do it.
For me personally my yoga practice is now something that just has to be done. Even if I don't feel like it. This sounds much harsher than it is. It matters a lot how you approach your yoga practice. This can also be done gently and full of compassion towards yourself. And by doing it out of love and using it to set yourself up to feel better for the rest of the day.
I myself have made the decision to do my sadhana (pranayama, meditation and usually also mantra) daily and to practice yoga postures at least five times a week. With respect for my body to make this decision feasible. After all, we are not robots (although, by the way, they also need maintenance and usually don’t last as long as the human body).
One of my teachers described it as not having commitment issues. Can you make the commitment, where you do your best every day and respect what your body needs?
Appreciate what your body can do today
Be happy about what your body can do today. You don't know what your body can do tomorrow or next year.
Much more important than this factual uncertainty is that if you aren’t able to be happy with what your body can do today, it’s unlikely that you would be happy with your body’s capabilities in the future. Even if your capacity will increase tremendously. At least, not based on this capacity itself.
It requires the mental state of contentment. A state of wonder. The mere fact that it is very difficult to get a robot to do all those things that you 'normally' do every day without even thinking about it, shows how complicated it is what your body makes possible for you. A pretty good reason for some appreciation and wonderment, right?
Sometimes it helps to make yourself aware that no matter what isn’t functionally optimally in your body, a lot is going well. Our autonomic nervous system is directing a lot of processes for us, of which we are often not even aware of (because they happen automatically without any mental involvement). If you want to read more about this or see a nice animation that shows the intelligence of our cells, click HERE.
Actually, working from a state of contentment supports your growth; a calmer state of your nervous system will make it easier to create new patterns.
Focused on the past, present or future?
It is also tempting to think that it would feel nice if you can do a certain yoga posture in a certain way. At least, I heard that comment on some of my poses… In my case it would, but not for the ability of the depth. I also had and have the same feeling in poses with barely any depth. Just by approaching the posture from where you are right now, attuning it to what is beneficial for your body today, accompanied by enjoying your breath. So the feeling also comes from the inside out (your emotional state) and not only from the outside in (the yoga pose).
The moment you feel the need to be able to do a certain yoga pose in a certain way, there is an attachment (the opposite of detachment) to a result. In that case, your thoughts are actually focused on something you can't do yet (the future) or on the lack of not being able to do anymore (the past). As long as you focus on the future or past, it's hard to plant well-functioning new seeds to feel different.
For the same reason, visualizations can sometimes be a way of preserving the old. You can sense if this is the case for you by observing how you feel after you let go of the visualization. Do you then feel as if you are still missing something or do you feel fulfilled (as if the visualization itself already gave enough by, for example, a feeling of relaxation, focus or an insight)? In the first case there is still an attachment to a mental pain in the past (that asks to be processed first!), while in the second you can focus on how you feel in the present and plant a mental seed in the present. And toconnect this mental seed with a pragmatic action that is within reach.
Hope and contentment
For example, if the seated forward bend paschimottanasana feels difficult. Perhaps a similar sense of relaxation can be created by physically supporting your lower back by bending your knees so that your stomach lies flat on your thighs. So that you can sit more at the front of your sit bones, your pelvis can tilt better and you can distribute the stretch more over the entire backside of your body (from head to heels). Or maybe extending your neck and relaxing your jaw is what makes all the difference for you. Or perhaps by working from dandasana first on extending your lower back away from your hips (with your hands pushing against the floor), so that you learn to improve the tilt of your hips while maintaining length in your back.
Once you have found your variant, can you enjoy your breathing in this variant?
A little wonder for what your body is already able to could also instantly boost your sense of well-being. Especially if you combine it with awareness (and maybe even enjoying) your breath.
Moreover, yoga itself does not really have any goals in terms of yoga postures (except for a comfortable seat for meditation). That does not mean that the yoga postures are of no use. They sure have. They can provide enormous support to create more wellbeing, clarity and combined with your breath have a positive effect on your nervous system (which regulates a lot of systems in your body). But that mainly comes from the practice with connection and awareness itself. Being able to do the yoga postures is not an end in itself in the eightfold yoga path of Patanjali. However, they can contribute to it. Can you practice your yoga postures with hope and contentment at the same time?
Consistency through feasibility
Some things may take 20 years of consistent practice. Long enough, then, that chasing that kind of change will probably feelfrustrating. What if the yoga postures are not a goal in themselves, but possibilities to work on discipline and humility, to still the fluctuations of thoughts & emotions and at the same time offer a (physical & mental) therapeutic value? And that there are thousands of yoga postures (and variations), so that there are possibilities for all people? Based on that, you'll probably pick a whole different selection of yoga poses to work on. A series that is also much more achievable at the moment to practice consistently with connection and awareness. Precisely because it matches your current possibilities and circumstances.
Your yoga practice doesn't have to look the same each and every day and it certainly won’t always feel the same. In fact, variety is very therapeutic for the body. More helpful is the question whether you can set-up your yoga asana practice in such a way that it is easier to get back on the yoga mat the next day (instead of making it more difficult)?
Variety could be used to ease the mental challenge of practicing yoga regularly. By listening to what your objections indicate, without making an excuse out of it. What is your recurring theme?
Does your tendency to skip or procrastinate your practice for example show up if you’re tired, have muscle pain, have a busy day planned? Or maybe it’s depending on your meals or the tendency to first take a moment on the couch before starting your yoga practice?
If you have identified your main cause for you to deviate from your intention to practice yoga, what is the adjustment that could help you overcome it? For example, if you feel very tired, a gentle series could be your go-to. Or by practicing your usual yoga class/series with a different intention.
When it comes to muscle soreness, a yoga practice that spends more time on the warming-up could help. Combined with observing your expectations: can you let go of how deep you have to go into a pose to make it a good practice and can you focus on what feels good in your body?
If you have a busy day planned, you could probably still set aside 10 minutes somewhere to maintain consistency (for example by cutting out 10 minutes on social media). Or maybe it helps to put your yoga practice in your schedule in advance before you schedule any appointments so that you secure your much-needed self-care.
If your other caretaking responsibilities make it difficult to take time for yourself, perhaps you could ask for help from those around you to make some time for your yoga practice so that you are recharged afterwards to take care of them in a better way. Or if the ones you take care of are open to it, practicing yoga together might be another option.
Using the rhythm of the body and creating habits
Further, for me it also helps to wait with my breakfast till after I've done my yoga practice. This is not only recommended for the practice of the asana itself (so it doesn't get in the way and you can direct the energy to the asana practice instead of the digestion). It even helps me to get started before I even get hungry and hereby avoid procrastination.
In the time I still had a corporate job, my biggest challenge was the couch. I figured out that it helped me to avoid even seeing it. So my trick at that time was to take my yoga gear to work and from there to go directly to the yoga school.
Right now my biggest challenge is if I want to do a second yoga practice in a day to actually start. Especially if my boyfriend likes to join the practice (and it has to be done after finishing his work but before dinner). What helps me is to agree on a specific time. Just like it would be a scheduled class in a yoga studio.
These are just some examples for inspiration. However, it's all about finding what works for you. I therefore invite you to really think about your patterns and what could help you personally. For example, by taking out a notebook and writing about it until it becomes clear what might work for you. Understanding your own patterns often requires some time and attention. However the invested time will have the big reward of actually starting your yoga practice as often as you would like.
Technique & commitment
If you seem to reach a plateau or if your body can no longer do the things that used to be easy (for example due to an injury), it can be more difficult to stay motivated to keep practicing on a daily basis. However, you could also perceive it as an invitation to delve into other techniques.
There is never just one technique that works best for all people in all situations. Curiosity about how the different effects of different techniques increases your awareness about your options to approach yoga postures. And a practice that is better tailored to you is easier to maintain. In addition, it could also be fun to go to workshops, trainings or to read an interesting yoga book.
Ultimately, though, it's not about the yoga poses themselves. And just like that besides the yoga mat we are never always better at everything than everyone else on this planet, that also applies to the yoga mat. In fact, we don't even have to be the “best” in anything at all. And each time a yoga pose seems too difficult, we get the chance to feel our humanity and humility. To learn to deal with the ups and downs of life in a healthy way. With awareness and connection.
Make it joyful
Even though it is often not necessary to work on very challenging poses from a therapeutically point of view, it can still be fun. For example, you don't need to be able to practice handstands to practice inversions. Poses like Prasarita Padottanasana (standing angle pose), Sarsangasana (rabbit pose) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) are also inversions. But if it's within your capabilities, it can be fun to work on it.
Or maybe you enjoy your yoga practice more by making the movements more fluid. Orby the addition of some restorative or yin poses. When it comes to making it easier to practice consistently, making it enjoyable helps a lot.
What you need probably changes every day. Observing yourself in this respect is also a valuable addition to create more awareness in your yoga practice.
Need more tips to build a daily yoga practice? Then also check out these yoga blogs:
Would you like help in building a yoga home practice through private
yoga classes by me and do you live in Haarlem, Bloemendaal or Santpoort? Please contact me by e-mailto discuss the possibilities.
Outfit & Yoga Mat
At the photo I am wearing the K-Deer Sunset legging and K-Deer Criss Cross bra in Black. I am practicing on my favorite Moonchild yoga mat for a super grip (which helps me to activate my muscles well in my asana practice).
Never ever again miss anything from our yoga blog?
Do you want to implement more yoga lifestyle habits, step by step? To become more relax and create & enjoy your ideal life by heart? To live according to your intention? Your pursuit of happiness? It is our goal to help you with this.
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER and never again miss any of our yoga blogs again (and receive a free e-book full with yoga lifestyle tips for more energy and discount on your first order in the YogaHabits webshop).