Have you ever seen photos of chiseled yogis smiling in some acrobatic posture and thought to yourself, “If only I could do a one-handed handstand?” Well, the journey to levitation isn’t short or easy, but this article will help you create the space for a daily yoga practice and make your personal goals within reach.
For many, attending a yoga class at 6:30am might seem dreadful, and after a long day at work, it’s easy to understand if you’re too exhausted to opt for an hour-long sweat session. That’s why teachers often ask students to offer gratitude to themselves at the end of each class for having the determination to show up on their mats.
Remember, though, that yoga should be enjoyable and should fit your mood and schedule each day. Whether you’re traveling, too busy to get to your studio, too exhausted, or can’t fit studio membership into your budget, here are five great tips to making a daily yoga practice accessible and enjoyable.
1. Create the Space
Creating a physical space in your home or office that is inviting for you to move through some yoga postures can turn the thought of a tough practice into a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Begin by setting the mood with music appropriate for the kind of practice you’re looking to have. If you want to sweat and flow, put on your favorite pop or electronic playlist and turn up the bass. Similarly, if you want to relax and unwind, create a soothing ambience with peaceful music of your choice. Personally, Krishna Das is almost always my go-to.
Next, adjust the temperature so that you’re comfortable; more than simply making a winter class tolerable, a good space heater can also make for a great addition to your own hot yoga practice.
Finally, bring more serenity to your space by adding candles, a plant, or even a rock with a positive intention like strength, stability, or balance.
Having YOUR space will make the goal of practicing yoga each day a reality and bring you one step closer to that cover on Yoga Journal.
2. Do a Song’s Worth of Yoga
Who says a yoga practice has to be an hour?!
Put on your favorite song and get moving. Tune in to your breath and enjoy the benefits of stretching your mind and body even if for just a few minutes of practice.
Several half sun salutations will give your body much-needed relief from sitting hunched-over at your desk all day and awaken your body after a night’s sleep.
Besides, if you tell yourself you must do 20 minutes of yoga, you may never find the time. One song’s worth of yoga is a great place to start, and, again, you’re one verse closer to chiseled one-handed handstands.
3. Take Yourself Lightly
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t practice. The worst mistake you can make is to create and put yourself into a box that is full of suffering, shame, and guilt.
Focus on the positives and, if you miss a day, create the time and space to get back at it the next day.
Remember that yoga is an ENJOYABLE journey of self-improvement, empowerment, and freedom! … And chiseled abdominals. Be patient and persistent, and you will see the benefits and positivity of your efforts blossom before your eyes.
Whether you want to ease stress, back pain, become more limber, or gain strength, be mindful and realistic of your goals.
No yogi ever appeared on the cover of Yoga Journal by accident. By defining realistic goals, you will give each yoga session more meaning and allow yourself to acknowledge your efforts through achievements.
Over time, you may surprise yourself with your progress and with how your goals encompass feats that were, before, beyond your scope of vision. Start with an attainable goal, and new doors will soon open.
Train your mind and body as you would any household pet and give yourself a reward for good behavior.
Personally, I love donuts; unfortunately, there just happens to be a donut shop on the corner by my yoga studio. A while back, I began rewarding myself with a maple bar a couple times a week. I soon realized, however, that the donuts were outweighing the benefits of my yoga practice. I’ve learned to keep the donut treat to once or twice a month so that I can enjoy it without guilt and recognize my hard work.
Similarly, make a rewards system for long-term goals. With the purpose of this article being to implement a yoga practice into your daily life, start with a realistic goal of practicing at least a song’s worth of yoga each day for a month. Set an appropriate reward for yourself, such as a day at the spa, and remember to enjoy the journey and to not be critical of yourself should you fall short of your goal.
Tell yourself, “If I don’t honor myself, who will?”
At the end of each practice, remember and impress upon your memory how good you feel. Each time you think of yoga, remember THAT feeling. The awareness of the benefits your practice brings you will keep you coming back to the mat – guaranteed!
Pretty soon, you might be smiling upside-down, if not on the cover of a yoga magazine, at least in your living room.
Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.