10 (Sometimes Controversial) Tips for Building a Daily Yoga Practice
Like many of us, you may have begun yoga with lots of enthusiasm and pure intentions, which quickly dwindled as life got in the way and you’re wondering how do I create a regular yoga practice? Or perhaps you’d just love to take it up but don’t quite know how to get started. There are some simple ways you can make a regular yoga practice part of your life, we’ll cover a few tips and tricks so you can reap the benefits and get onto your beautiful yoga mat!
It’s well known that humans live a life of habits, our brains are geared that way to save energy and keep us safe. Have you noticed that even when you go somewhere on holiday, where you don’t have an established routine, you fall into one within a day? It’s a bit scary how quickly it happens, but now we know how our brains work we can use that information for our benefit.
1. Break Old Habits - Practice First Thing
Like FIRST THING - if you let anything else get in the way, you’ll quickly swing off onto your usual morning routine. Roll out of bed and onto your mat, don’t even brush your teeth until the pattern is more established. Just do it.
2. Bring Your Morning Coffee with You!
OK, so it’s maybe not the most zen thing, but it can be really motivating, and you can cut it out later if you want. But having your morning tea or coffee there builds in a sense of reward that ultimately your practice will give you. Until your brain has learned this though, this will give you a bit of a dopamine boost. Waking up, doing your short morning flow and taking a few sips of tea along the way will seem like a pretty nice start to the day.
3. Make it Accessible - Keep it Short
Your mind is really going to fight against it if you start off committing to an hour’s practice, giving you all sorts of reasons why you don’t have time. Yet you can get so much from just a 15-minute practice. You’ll find that once your practice is established your motivation will grow and you’ll want to do longer practices, and perhaps even adding in a second one - something flowing in the morning and perhaps a Yin Yoga in the evening after work.
4. Use an Online Streaming Yoga Platform
This can be highly motivating - you have someone to practice with and guide you, new routines to keep things interesting, and a massive range of classes. You can pick the exact time that you have available and the style and level you feel like doing. Many people worry that the instruction won’t be good enough if you’re not with a teacher in person - although going to regular live classes is recommended, you’ll be amazed at the level of teaching that is possible in an online class.
We recommend Yoga International or Movement for Modern Life for the full range of classes, world-class teachers and the company ethos.
5. Use a Beautiful Yoga Mat!
OK, this one is a bit consumerist and obviously we’re blowing our own trumpet, because our customers have told us that using their Lord of the Rings-themed yoga mat is highly motivating, but having good equipment that you want to use can help you get going. Then, using the other tricks outlined above will keep you on the path! Whilst we like a well cushioned mat with plenty of grip to aid practice, we do want to emphasise no equipment is necessary for yoga, so don’t let that stop you. You could even choose not to have any mat as is often the case for practitioners of Shadow Yoga, which can be incredibly strengthening.
6. Notice How you Feel
At the end of every session take a moment to feel the change in your state from your practice - as you get to know this feeling of peace and calm and the satisfaction of having moved and opened up your body, you will come to look for it.
7. Practice After Work
Like straight after work! Come in and roll out the mat. Especially if you work at a desk and have to commute, your body will quickly come to appreciate being opened up again. Having spent a day focusing on work and talking with others you will also appreciate centring in once more.
Again, because you will release the feel-good hormones when you take this breather in your day, it will easily become part of your routine. Just don’t let anything else get in the way before you do it and remember to keep it short when you begin - everyone has 10 minutes free before they need to put the dinner on!
8. Try a 21 or 40 Day Challenge
These are both arguably the amount of time it takes to break or create a new habit and can be a game-changer You set an intention and change or add certain habits for the duration. The longer you do it, the more likely it is to stick.
Don’t just rush in - think about what issues may come up - what time of day is going to work best, what might get in the way - make a plan for how to deal with those. Sit down and clear your mind, focus on what you want to achieve, set your intention. Write it all down and consider wearing a knotted piece of wool or yarn for the length of the challenge to remind yourself of your task and why you are undertaking it.
At the end, sit and calm yourself again, think back over the time, what you’ve achieved and make a plan for how you will continue, then ceremonially cut the bracelet off.
9. Just Rest
Feeling tired out, really lacking motivation, thinking you need to just skip your yoga session? Then choose a very restful class - you get so many benefits. Yin Yoga, Restorative, meditation, Yoga Nidra, or just a slow, mindful flow all help nourish your nervous system and with many you can still get a gentle opening and stretch if you feel the need.
In many ways, these restful practices are the most important to build into our often stressful lives to help support our immune system, and just to be able to enjoy life by being in a calm, relaxed place. Allow yourself to take things easy, adapt your yoga practice to suit your needs and it will not only motivate you to keep going, it will support your life.
10. Make a Commitment Now
Decide now when is going to be the best time to fit in your yoga session, consider any issues and how you will overcome them, write it out, include why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve, sign it and stick it up on your refrigerator to remind yourself.
At a certain point, you no longer need to motivate yourself, except for maybe the tiniest nudge - the practice takes on a life of its own as you come to appreciate the benefits and you won’t be able to imagine your life without it.
At Middle-earth™ Yoga you can find luxury The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings-themed yoga mats and accessories, including our Tree of Gondor and Misty Mountains Yoga mats - all with outstanding grip, perfect cushioning on a mat that’s longer and wider than standard to help you establish your yoga practice.