The old maxim that it takes twenty-one days of near-continuous behavior to develop or break a habit is not entirely accurate, but it does convey the right message, which is that good habits, such as yoga, take time to develop. The true downside of that old saying is that it takes much, much less time than twenty-one days to break a good habit, such as yoga.
As the calendar turns to December and the New Year, there are more and more obstacles which may prevent you from pursuing your yoga interests. Here are a few thoughts on how you can avoid letting your yoga practice fall by the wayside.
Create a New Routine
Creating a new routine often times means getting creative. In the case of maintaining a yoga practice over the holidays, this might mean mixing up your movement habits to compliment your new schedule of holiday activities.
If at all possible, practice yoga on your own schedule, and not on someone else’s schedule. While early morning yoga works best for most people, it may not work best for you. Midday or evening yoga is just as good. While planning activities for the season, be sure and plan time for yourself.
If you attend a yoga class, there are some additional considerations. Many people join yoga classes because they enjoy the social interaction with others who share similar interests, and because practicing with other yogis provides ongoing motivation. But if the class you like is on the other side of town, it’s probably a good idea to find a closer one, at least for the holidays. Your yoga friends will understand and the new group will welcome a new student.
Because the holidays mark a time for travel, family and time off, we can find ourselves out of our habitual routines. If the yoga studio you’re used to going to is closed or far away due to travel, this can be the perfect time to initiate a home practice. For example, PYO offers online yoga classes taught by the beloved studio teachers so you can practice with your favorite teacher even if attending class is not an option.
Restock Your Yoga Gear
Finally, take a few moments every week to take stock of your yoga supplies. The holidays are a great time to refresh your stock (or give a hint to others to help you restock, cough, new yoga mat, cough). Having the right yoga gear around can help motivate you to keep with a regular practice through the holidays and into the New Year.
Keep an extra close eye on things like:
- Your Yoga Mat: Kneeling and bending are very, very hard on your joints without a good yoga mat. Make sure that it’s thick enough to provide noticeable protection yet thin enough to transport easily. Watch for signs of wear where you normally place your knees, elbows, and hands, because these spots usually get thin first. If you’re unhappy about a certain aspect of your mat (sweaty palms, anyone?), do some research into different mat styles, textures, lengths, thicknesses, etc. (Our experts at PYO would also love to assist you in your mat search. Email your questions to [email protected]!)
- Foot Support: Yoga can also be hard on your feet, so to relieve everyday discomfort and keep you going full speed, be sure you stretch and strengthen your feet regularly. That might involved simply rolling them over a golf ball, foam rolling feet and calf muscles, or wearing supports in your shoes for arched feet.
- Props: blocks, straps and blankets are all common forms of yoga props. Especially if you enjoy practicing at home, these props can help make poses more accessible for your body. Props can be purchased at major retailers like Target, or can be delivered to your doorstep in less than two days with Amazon Prime. These can be great gift suggestions if your loved ones find it hard to shop for you.
Keep Your Goal in Mind
Some people practice yoga to find relief from arthritis and other chronic pain, some pursue physical fitness, and some pursue emotional balance. These are all legitimate goals that are within your reach if you just keep moving forward. You may not be able to flush your pain pills or be featured in a lifestyle magazine, but the difference will be noticeable both to you and your loved ones. Keep your eye on the prize.
When you maintain awareness of the motivating factors for your yoga practice, you are more likely to stick with it, especially when other life events come up.
Let Yourself Fall Out of Routine Without Guilt
An extra slice of pie at a family celebration is not the end of the world, and neither is an extra day off from a yoga routine. It takes a lot more than that to derail a fitness routine, so do not be afraid to take advantage of the occasional indulgence. In fact, taking time off from your yoga practice can actually be a good thing. Coming back to the practice after a break often leads to greater clarity and physical and mental gains.
No matter how you celebrate them, the holidays are really about putting other people first, stepping outside of yourself, and taking some time to enjoy life. The foundational principles of yoga, including kindness, truthfulness, mindfulness, and peace, will shine even brighter through your day to day living during the holidays. Remember that physical and emotional fitness makes life much more enjoyable for everyone, including your friends and family.
Regardless of the time of year, yoga is a great addition to your daily or weekly routine. Even though you may need to make a few small sacrifices this holiday season to maintain yoga momentum, these moves will pay off in the end.
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…The goal is to help others “rebel against age”.