As I’ve always maintained, any movement is better than no movement. That’s a given. I also appreciate that people find it challenging to find the time to practice daily, if at all, during the week. You may have children which demand your attention at all hours, you could be a shift worker, or work in a crazy corporate job as I did which expects you to be in the office at all hours with zero regard for your trying to have a personal life... I get it. But with that said, although it’s not realistic for people to practice yoga daily as I do (excluding Sunday’s - that’s my sleep in day!) it is so important to schedule some time throughout the week to just move.
With a busy schedule myself, I need to be very consistent with my practice to make sure I don’t skip it, and I wanted to share with you how I do it. Keep in mind, this is my personal schedule which fits into my life and routine. There is no need to put pressure on yourself to follow this. It’s about simply learning to adapt and apply these principles into your life so you too can maintain your practice and put an end to feelings of guilt (which we all have) when it comes to the end of the week and realise we’ve done no exercise/movement that week.
1. Have the right mindset
If you truly want to achieve something, then you will. This desire will see you succeed in whatever you want for your life. It comes down to unrelenting commitment. If you commit to your promises to self, which means no excuses when the going gets tough, then the rest will follow. Having the right mindset is of prime importance to ensuring you achieve your goals. This applies to absolutely everything we do in life. If we commit to a way of life, with a thorough understanding and acceptance that there will be challenges along the way, then everything will begin fall into place.
For me, I want to truly deepen my practice, continue to challenge myself and all the while focus on bringing stillness into my life. I know yoga helps me with this. So for me, I’m committed to my morning practice and making sure I always take time to move, regardless of how flat, lazy or tired I may be that day. Why do i do this? Well, I know it’s my practice that will bring me back to the present moment and give the energy I need to be the best I can be that day. Yoga is my gift to self and when I remember this, it always spurs me on to keep up my practice.
2. Find a time and stick to it
It’s so important to find time in the day that you know will always be available for you without distractions. For me, I practice from 4.50am every morning until about 7.00am (This is not to say you need to practice for as long as I do. Just 30 minutes a day will work wonders for your body). I’ve calculated how long it will take for me to get ready, have breakfast and get out the door before 8.00am each morning, so this time suits me perfectly. Afternoons would never work for me. In the afternoons, I usually want to come home and just relax with a cup of tea and a good book - which means it’s highly likely I’ll skip practice that day. Mornings are therefore a safer bet.
Find your time to practice. If you can do afternoons, that’s awesome. Your discipline is far greater than mine in that regard! Or, set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than normal in the morning, have your clothes next to your bed so you don’t need to be fumbling around in the wardrobe looking for what to put on (something warm and comfy is always best) and then sit on your mat for a few moments. The movement will then come.
3. Move how your body needs
Some mornings really are a little more challenging than others to get up. (My alarm and I will probably never become friends). There are days where I sit on my mat and feel like I could fall straight back to sleep sitting upright (I quite possibly have on a couple of occasions) and on those days I don’t push it. I know my sequence I will practice, but I may need to bring it back a notch or two because my body isn’t up for anything intense.
Feel your body. Notice what it needs or wants, and then move that way. There is no need to force yourself to do the same YouTube sequence you’ve been watching for months. If your body wants to do some gentle Vagra Swasa (tiger) breathing, then just do that. If Ardho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) is where you feel you need to be, then be there. Like wise, if you feel you can go that little bit deeper - do! This is your time to play, explore and enjoy your body. Feel it. Don’t force it.
4. Never skip Savasana
Savasana (corpse pose) is quite possibly the most important asana of them all. This is a time to integrate all the marvellous benefits of your practice and bring deep relaxation to your body. This is where the magic happens. By taking 5 minutes to consciously scan your body and notice what’s happening with it, any changes within the body following your practice, you are becoming deeply attuned to yourself.
My morning practice is never complete until I’ve taken time to lie in Savasana. I set a gentle alarm on my phone to let me know when it’s time to begin preparing for Savasana (as sometimes I get carried away in my practice and lose track of time). This way I will always have time for this closing part of my practice without feeling rushed.
5. Thank yourself
I’m well aware getting up at 4.50am in the morning is not an easy task. It’s really not, especially if I didn’t get a good nights sleep. Because of this, I ALWAYS take a moment to thank myself for taking this time to practice. That I have enough respect and love for myself that I’ve upheld my personal commitment. You can do the same. Sitting with your eyes closed, just take a breath and thank yourself, your body, for taking the time to nurture it. For committing to bringing balance into body-breath-mind. In doing so, you will continue to motivate yourself to keep practicing.
6. Take a break
Traditional yoga means you always take a day for rest. Sunday is my day. Although a sleep in for me is 7.00am, I look so forward to it. It’s nice to lay in bed and read a book whilst listening to the wind and rain outside. This is also an important time to allow the body to completely rest and rejuvenate in preparation for the coming week.
Breakfast in bed anyone!
I’m excited to hear your journey with your regular yoga practice! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below and share your story. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for the Jessica Dewar Newsletter where I share my best tips, ideas and lessons!