As I review the work of our Kundalini Yoga Training students and read the essays and comments from their practice, I witness once again the importance and huge benefits of having a consistent daily yoga practice. If you have done yoga, most likely you have experienced the joy and glow you feel afterward. Sometimes it is so deep we can even feel it for a long period, and as we go back to our life and daily activities it smoothly vanishes and we long to have that sensation back. Maybe you already know those sensations can be a few breaths away, but somehow the hustle makes it elusive for many who struggle to be able to get on the mat and go back to that beauty day after day. I remember as I was studying my first Yoga Training I decided to commit to opening the space for the early morning class (Kundalini Yoga Sadhana) ,because I knew that would make me go to class, as I would never keep others waiting outside at 5:50 am. That was my way to make the commitment stronger and get me doing my Sadhana every day, so I know firsthand that many times we have to trick our minds to be able to establish a daily practice.
After 20 years of practice and more than 15 years teaching yoga, I can share that a powerful and meaningful yoga practice doesn’t have to always come in the form of asana. As we study in our Kundalini Yoga Trainings, breathing, meditating and chanting, even for a few minutes, might ignite significant transformation and change the way we show up in our life. Many scientific studies have proved it, and I have witnessed its transformational power in myself and others, from overwhelmed moms, hectic corporative workers, people dealing with burnout, anxiety, and depression, and even inmates dealing with deeply tough situations. So how could I not invite you to try it by yourself in a daily yoga practice?
So let’s address 4 myths I’ve seen get in the way of many who are willing to have a daily yoga practice:
- Lack of motivation and procrastination > “I’ll begin when I feel more motivated.” Most likely the truth is, you won’t. Lack of motivation might get in the way as we wait for inspiration to arise, for the energy to come, and for our minds to be ready, but the truth is motivation will come from action, not the other way around, and practicing will give you the energy you’re looking for.
- Perfectionism > “My routine should be of at least 1 hour to be of any value.” I get it, I have done it too. A 2-hour practice feels great and it is so precious when we are able to offer these moments to ourselves, but many times the longing for the perfect practice ends up translating into a lack of practice. Remember, what’s important is to show up and de there for yourself! The longer the better, might be true, but don’t underestimate the power of a few minutes of breath, stretch, or meditation, it could change your mindset and your way of being in the world.
- Lack of time > “I’ll begin as soon as I have more time.” Yes, our time is limited, it’s true, but you will not have time for your practice unless you MAKE time for it. Be conscious about how much time you want and can dedicate to your practice and commit to it. If you are lacking time, be effective in what you want from your practice and learn to offer that to yourself – energy, relaxation, focus?? You will probably notice that as you commit to it you will have more focus and might be able to organize to have more time.
- Expectations > “My yoga practice should always run smoothly.” As I said yoga can be SO beautiful, but expecting every session to be sparkly sets us for disappointment. Many times we come to the mat struggling, with our minds and or bodies complaining, and is true that we could be able to change that as we go through our practice, but sometimes we can’t, and have to use that space to deal with strong emotions. What is truly important is to be there, to give ourselves space to breathe and be present through what arises, learn to not resist it, and show up for ourselves in the best way possible.
And now that we have addressed myths, I’ll share a few tips to make it easier to establish a daily yoga practice:
- Get a notebook to journal about your yoga practice and begin by writing down clearly why would you like to have a daily yoga practice. Set your goals (For example: begin with 7 days and grow from that), write which steps you need to take to make it happen, and set your goals and commitments for the week.
- Define the routine you are going to follow in your practice, either having the same practice for a set of days or having a physical practice, pranayama (breath), and meditation to do. Not having to choose at the moment makes it easier to get going.
- Have an “emergency routine” for tough days. Sometimes life happens and also some days we have less time than normal, have a backup plan for those days: it could be as short as sitting down for a 3min meditation. It really helps if you have this settled as a “go-to” tool for busy days.
- Practice non-attachment (Vairagya) in your practice. Let go of expectations of how you should feel before, during, and after your practice. It will change no matter how much you like it or hate it.
- Learn to flow with what arises through your practice and give yourself space to breathe your emotions, allowing yourself to be just as you are.
- Do your best to stick to a time and place for your practice, it’s easier to establish a routine if you do it that way.
- Work with friction. Any type of change goes against the neural pathways that have become automatic to us, so while we work to create new ones, try to make it easy for yourself to begin with your practice and reduce the resistance. Examples: get everything ready the night before, display your mat in front of your bed the night before, etc.
- Be flexible. If you miss a day, that just makes you human. Learn from it and do your best to continue and don’t allow negativity to get in the way.
- Remember, motivation follows action, not the other way around. You need to set yourself in action to get the motivation to do it and most likely more you do it, the easier it would become. So whenever in doubt, don’t overthink it, just do it!
- Be curious! Your yoga practice needs to be alive! There is so much to explore in the yoga tradition, allow the different aspects of it to inspire you. Including philosophy, mantras, mudras, poems, and learning about the postures allows you to go deeper, follow your interests and keep being a student forever!
Remember, your yoga practice is not a destination, it’s a journey, learn from your mistakes and ride it with love & strength!
I’ll love to hear about what helps you keep your yoga practice alive and which challenges get in the way. Share in the comments!
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