Maintaining Your Yoga Practice

When I first started practicing yoga in college I could only afford to go on occasion, but as I got older and settled into my career I finally had the finances to allow for a more consistent yoga practice…but when I finally got to that point in my life a funny thing happened.  I didn’t go very often. 

That’s right.  I know, it makes no sense, right?  I loved yoga, I wanted to go to classes, and I had done it enough to know all the good things it did for my body, mind, and spirit.  But when I finally had the financial means to go consistently, I didn’t go.  And I am willing to bet that you can either relate to that yourself or you know a fellow yogi who can.  It is actually quite common. 

Maintaining your yoga practice isn’t always as easy as we might like it to be…and for any of a number of reasons.  Sometimes it is financial, but more often than not it is simply life.  Our job, our kids, our other commitments.  Our lives seem to become taken over by all the demands placed on us (as well as those we place on ourselves).  The irony is that it is at times like that when we need yoga even more…yet we seem to make it to class even less.

So how do we put an end to this vicious cycle?  Unfortunately, there is no one easy answer.  However, here are a few tips that may help you win back your yoga practice.

  1. Put your oxygen mask on first, then put it on the person next to you – that is to say, make sure you are taking adequate time for yourself first and foremost.  I know the idea of self-care is a common fad topic now, but the reality is that if we don’t take care of ourselves we will not be able to take care of those we love.  We cannot continue to give everything we have to those around us without refilling/feeding our souls.  We have to find a way to believe in the core of our own being that we are worth that one hour once or twice a week (because you are worth that and so much more), giving ourselves permission to do what is good for us so we can show up better for everyone else in our lives.
  2. Put it on your calendar –  it may sound simple, but if it isn’t on the calendar then it is even more likely to not happen.  Schedule it, and give it the same priority level you give other vital tasks in your week…because you and your health are worth it.
  3. Find a yoga buddy – again, another potentially cliché idea, but it works.  When we have someone else depending on us we tend to show up…so take advantage of this little hack.  Find someone to support and who will support you.
  4. Make a list of all the things you get from your yoga practice (all the benefits) – this list serves as a reminder to you and to anyone trying to prevent you from tending to your yoga practice of the reasons why your yoga practice is not negotiable.  This list can also serve as a centering practice for yourself – reminding you of why you go and what your intentions for your practice are.
  5. Forgive yourself – there will be days when you don’t make it…it happens.  Just don’t beat yourself up about it.  Illness, work, and other major issues can come up and prevent you from attending a class despite your best efforts and intentions.  No worries.  There’s always tomorrow.  Don’t allow one occasion to send you spiraling down into the abyss of abandoning your practice altogether. 
  6. It’s called your yoga practice for a reason – because it is exactly that, a practice.  And practice indicates room for improvement (no one is perfect here).  It is about intention.  It is about connecting with the mind, body, and the breath.  It is about discovering things about yourself you never knew before.  That’s why we keep coming back…to continue our practice and to continue our own personal growth.  Always remember that.

So the next time you are struggling to get back to your mat, just consider some of these tips.  And above all, remember what the Buddha once said – “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”  And that includes your yoga practice. 

Namaste!

Bobbi Billman, Ignite Yoga & Wellness Owner & Teacher

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