I've had a daily yoga practice for the last three years. Sounds kind of impressive, right? Then let me tell you that I started practicing inconsistently ten years ago. Yeah, it took me almost seven years to get to a daily yoga practice.
I flipped and flopped. I'd practice hard for a summer, then go on to doing something else. I tried all different kinds of workouts; I danced, did high intensity interval training (HIIT), and lifted heavy weights. But I always ended up coming (ok, sometimes crawling) back to yoga. Yoga was what I craved.
Finally, after those seven years of being all over the map, I decided to commit myself to my practice, and it was the best decision I ever made. It took me a long time to make that choice, and I learned many lessons along the way.
If you are struggling to make your practice stick, here are my suggestions for making it happen.
1. Realize that it takes time to build a habit.
Let's face the facts: building a new habit is hard. It takes time and effort for something to become a natural part of your life. Even if you know this new practice is good for you and will benefit you, it still takes time to build a habit. Trust the process.
Give yourself time and space and realize that if you can’t make it happen over night, it doesn't mean that you can’t do it. Nor does it mean that you shouldn't keep trying. Change takes time.
Can you allow yourself that time? Can you give yourself permission to take the time you need to build your new routine?
2. Do not beat yourself up when you fall off the yoga wagon.
Initially, when I would fall out of my yoga routine, I would feel bad about myself. I'd feel like a failure and a quitter and like I was weak. Then, one day, I realized that all this negativity I was dumping on myself was in no way inspiring me to change or move in a positive direction.
So I decided to switch to some love and compassion instead. When I would fall out of my routine with yoga, I would simply say, “It's ok! I am human!” And lo and behold, the nicer I was to myself, the more I actually WANTED to practice and the less resistance I felt. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Can you love yourself even when you fall off your yoga path? Can you give yourself space to be human? ~Ali Washington
3. Think of the benefits of the practice and reinforce the positive.
One of the things that made yoga stick for me was mentally noting how amazing I felt with regular practice.
Mindfully, I paid attention to how grounded, pain-free, and joyful I felt while practicing in comparison to how I felt after other workouts. The more I focused on the benefits of my practice, the more I was motivated to do it.
What are your reasons for practicing? What do you get from your practice that you don’t get anywhere else?
4. Experiment until you find your groove.
Everyone’s ideal yoga situation is different. Some really need the studio to make a practice come alive. Others need the incentive of spending money on a pass or need a teacher for inspiration. Perhaps you need a home practice because you need to be in your own energy. Maybe online courses are best for you.
Everyone has a different budget, amount of time, and kind of energy. Fortunately, there are so many options for practice nowadays, and you have the freedom to experiment!
Can you give yourself space to explore different styles of practice? Can you allow yourself to experiment until you find what fits your life best right now?
5. Allow your practice to grow and expand.
There is no "right" way to practice. What works for you today may not be what works tomorrow, and that's OK!
There was a phase in my life where getting my butt to the studio was the best way to be consistent. I needed the motivation of spending money on a pass and needed the inspiration from the instructors. Then, as time passed, I realized that I was going to be more consistent if I had a home practice. I needed to be able to do yoga whenever and wherever I was.
By not forcing myself to stick with going to the studio and allowing my practice to transform as I needed it to, I was able to stick with it.
Can you allow your practice to shift, change, and grow as you go? Do you need to change what you are currently doing so that you are able to stick with it?
Yoga is a journey, and although our path can twist and turn just like our bodies, it's a chance to learn and discover. What are your secrets to consistency? Do these tips and tricks resonate with you? Please share your thoughts with the DOYOUYOGA community.