With the new year upon us, you may be thinking about a resolution to practice yoga. However, resolutions have proven themselves challenging to actually become resolute. How many of us make a resolution and only want it to last one month?
Often our resolutions are pointed towards a deeper, more complex, lifestyle change. This type of change is gradual, and it’s slow to achieve. This new year, follow these tips for how to stick to your yoga practice and uphold your goals.
Be honest about what works for you.
We have a lot of expectations of what we “should” do based on external pressure from those around us. If you’re not a morning person, why force yourself to the 6:00 am class? There is no right or wrong way—we all make our own way.
Remember that your practice will, and should, look different than those around you.
Find a teacher and class that you LOVE.
When I see my favorite teacher on the schedule, it makes me so excited to get to class. I can’t wait to see her and what she has in store for us. Find a teacher and class type that you truly love, and it will add another layer of motivation to stick to your practice.
Get yourself ready to rock n' roll.
Set yourself up for success by getting everything you need ready, prior to your practice.
Pack a yoga bag. If your yoga bag is packed and ready the night before, you are more likely to practice. When you see your bag, it’s a cue to remind you of your goals and to stick to your plan for that day. And, it cuts down on time and stress of scrambling to get things ready last minute before you’re trying to leave.
Change into your yoga clothes. Our clothes have a powerful impact on our state of mind. Our brain creates associations between the clothes we wear and the activities we do in them. Simply putting on your yoga clothes can send signals to your body that it’s time to practice and boost your energy level.
Make it a routine.
When you find out what works for you, make it a routine. That way, when every Monday (or whatever day) comes around, you’ll automatically think: it’s yoga day! Block out a chunk of your calendar for yoga and treat this time as “un-re-schedule-able.”
Involve family and friends.
Whenever I visit my hometown, my mom and I always practice on Saturday mornings and then have brunch together. It’s something I always look forward to. Not only does it make practicing more fun, but it also holds us both accountable to wake up and get out the door. Create your own personal support system by involving friends and family.
Be compassionate towards yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up if you fall out of your routine for a moment. Life happens. Boulders will fall in your path. So, remember to keep things in perspective—you are making a lifestyle change. Each day is another day to take small steps towards your goal.
If you fall off the yoga-wagon for a day or two, let it be a day to learn and gain deeper understanding of yourself. Obstacles only encourage us to find another way around.
Yoga is more than just practicing asanas.
Last year, I pressured myself into a resolution that was too intense for me, which resulted in an injury that kept me away from my practice for 9 months. This was a debilitatingly frustrating time and I became calloused towards yoga.
However, when I came to terms, I realized there were many other ways I could still practice yoga without practicing asanas.
Pranayama. Breath work can be practiced anytime, anywhere. It’s a great way to energize yourself without movement.
Meditation. Meditation is another way to achieve a “flow” mentality without flowing through your vinyasas.
While you are changing your normal routine, keep in mind that sleep is not a part of the equation that can be eliminated. In our over-achieving society, sleep is often wrongly designated as a “waste of time.” However, sleep is essential to overall well-being and health.
When you sleep better, you have more energy to be active. When you are more active, you will get a better night’s sleep. Most adults need a full 5-6 sleep cycles—that’s 7.5 to 9 hours every night.
I hope these tips help you to find what works best for you. Remember to let go of external pressures to be or do things in one way. You and your practice are unique! Stick to that.
Image credit: Aneta Gab