What Helps (& What Doesn’t) with Daily Yoga
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
Trying to fit a daily yoga practice into our busy lives is not an easy task. At the beginning of the year, I did a 'yoga challenge' whereby I resolved to practice yoga on a daily basis. It was enriching, but not an easy committment. I thought I would share some tips on what did — and didn't — help me stick with yoga throughout the whole month of January.
THINGS THAT HELPED:
Daily Greatness Yoga Journal
I got this slightly bulky, but absolutely brilliant journal for Christmas. It’s been super helpful in keeping track of my daily yoga practice, and keeping my life in check generally. In the intro section you can determine and note down your values, mission and goals for the year ahead, while in the daily pages, which you can fill each morning and evening, you’re asked about things you’re grateful for, things you want to achieve, things you were proud of, and things you could’ve done better that day.
What’s particularly fantastic about this journal is that it allows you to break down your bigger, abstract goals into more digestible and specific 90-day targets, evaluated at the end of each week. This helps you keep track of your progress and see what went well and what didn’t. Even better, you can start filling it in at any point of the year, as the pages aren’t dated. Having checked, it only takes about five minutes per day to fill the morning and evening section of each page.
2. Having a yoga buddy
I cannot stress enough how big of a difference doing yoga with someone makes. I won’t lie – there are times when I hear the cheeky voice in my head whisper: ‘c’mon, Aggie – skipping one day won’t be a tragedy’; but getting a text from a friend, saying ‘I’ve already done my practice today. How’s yours going?’, always puts me back in line. Likewise, committing to attending regular classes with friends, usually provides that extra push to show up on the mat.
3. Having a clear plan to follow
Setting a clear 'yoga schedule' that is manageable and realistic can make all the difference.
Back in January, I follwed Adriene's free month-long yoga course with each 30-minute-or-so practice session targeting a specific aspect of a bigger theme. This year, the theme was ‘True’, as in, being true to oneself. Most of the time, however, less is more, and I find that committing to practicing yoga twice or three times a week, or practicing daily for 15 rather than 90 minutes, is more sustainable than setting oneself up for failure by making overly ambitious goals.
THINGS THAT DIDN’T HELP:
1. Breaking a regular yoga practice in the first place
I’ve been doing yoga, more or less regularly, for 15 years now, but what I always notice – to my greatest horror – is that breaking my yoga routine, even for a couple of weeks, really destroys my form. A longer break can leave me struggling to keep my downward-facing dog for longer than a couple of minutes. The moral of the story is: Consistency and frequency is key, in everything you do.
3. Irregular life routine
While it’s definitely possible to do yoga anywhere, an irregular lifestyle can make it more difficult. My daily work involves a fair amount of travel, which often involves leaving home at an ungodly hour and getting back too tired to want to do anything. While I wouldn't encourage anyone to be too rigid about their daily routine, having some structure in place definitely helps with finding time for yoga.
4. Inability to set clear work-life boundaries
Ah, that one, the old good ‘work-life balance’… we all want it and yet it’s so hard to maintain! An inability to keep our workaholic tendencies in check interferes with many areas of our life, not only yoga. In busy periods at work, I am often tempted to head to the office right after waking up and stay in it far longer than my energy levels allow, even if it means skipping exercise, social events, food or other things that keep me sane. Making a conscious committment to maintain our 'extracurrical activities' – no matter what – can be a great way toward a greater work-life balance.
While finding time for yoga isn't an easy task, practicing daily can tell you volumes about yourself. I invite you to pay attention to how your body and mind react to certain poses, sequences, mantras and to having a 'yoga regime' in place. These bodily reactions or fleeting thoughts and emotions might seem insignificant, but they are in fact very revealing.
Often the way we act on the mat is the way we act off the mat. The things that we struggle with or hold on tight to, or push through, on the mat are similar to the things that we struggle with, hold on to and push through in real life.
I invite you to keep that in mind as you incorporate a regular yoga practice into your lives. Namaste, peeps!