We all know how beneficial yoga is. It’s a science we practice because we know we feel better afterwards mentally and physically. The problem is it can be hard to make the commitment to show up regularly. Life gets hectic, we wake up with pain from sleeping in a compromised position, maybe you’re dealing with injury or chronic pain and struggle to give a crap about doing something physical. Maybe you feel bloated or feeling inflamed from something you ate, or feeling side effects from medications, maybe you’re dealing with mental health issues, or you're sore from other exercise routines or housework. We can always come up with a pile of reasons not to practice. We have to focus on the reasons to practice instead. The list of reasons to practice is much longer than the reasons not to practice. I can assure you of that.
After having a consistent yoga practice for more than 15 years I’ve learned you usually don't feel 100%. The more regularly you practice yoga the more you will notice that too. If we only practiced when we felt good we would rarely practice. The good news is that yoga will help you get closer to 100% than you were beforehand no matter what the hang up is. Sacrificing the whole for the part is never the answer. We end up losing so much more strength and mobility than necessary when we don’t practice. There are so many ways to physically practice that will serve your needs. When you calibrate your body everyday you will get closer and closer to total equilibrium. This is where our bodies like to be. It’s where we function most optimally. It’s where we feel our best and in turn our lives are better on a whole. Getting started is the hardest part but once you get started you realise you can do so much more than you thought you would be able to. And your yoga practice will move to a deeper, more subtle place.
The nice thing about practicing when you have an ailment or issue is that it will teach how to work around obstacles. You will work in ways you wouldn’t have if you were feeling good enough to go through the same motions that are in your comfort zone. Because you’ll reroute your practice to fit your needs, you will learn so much more. Our ailments and issues are what help to dictate our yogic path. They are in our life for a reason. Embrace them and learn the lessons. We can’t wait for everything to be perfectly in place and we’re feeling 100% in order to practice or we’ll never practice. That will just turn into a vicious cycle of suffering in some form or another.
Here are some tips on how to motivate yourself to practice.
Get dressed for yoga- Have your clothes laid out the night before if you intend to practice in the morning. If you practice later in the day, get dressed for it. It will help set the intention.
Roll out your mat- If you don’t want to practice just roll out your mat. You might just happen to gravitate towards it after a few minutes. You might as well anyway since you’re dressed for it;)
Try to practice at the same time every day- You will get used to the rhythm of the day with your practice being a part of it. Just like brushing your teeth. When it’s missing you’ll notice.
Practice in the same place- Have a designated spot to practice in. This will set the feel for your practice. When you enter that spot with your mat you know this is your time to quiet your mind and calibrate your body. Over time you will build an association with that particular spot and practicing yoga.
Just follow the recipe- Try not to be overwhelmed by thinking too much about what you should practice. If you are one of my students you know your Half Sun Salutations, Sun Salutation A and probably Sun Salutation B and legs up the wall. Maybe you know primary series. Probably you know your 5 Tibetan Rites too. That’s all good stuff! Just start with any of that and see where it takes you. Maybe you only get 10 Half Sun Salutations in. That’s definitely not nothing. Once you do some Half Suns you will more than likely feel like doing something more.
Have no expectations and just breathe- Don’t expect anything one way or another. Just be in the moment feeling your body and the sensations that come up, and breath. Whatever happens, happens.
We talked about all of the reasons to practice, here are a few reasons not to practice or when you should modify your practice.
If you have a fever you should not practice in a way that heats up your body. No vinyasas. You can do more restorative postures like legs up the wall.
Ladies, when it’s your time of the month it’s really up to you to decide if you should practice or not. Yoga does relieve a lot of symptoms related to menstruation but some women have very heavy bleeding and severe fatigue. If you can get yourself to your mat just take it easy. Yoga is absolutely safe during this time of month.
If you practice 6 days a week, take the 7th day off.
If you have a consistent 6 day a week practice you also take off moon days, full moon and new moon.
Keep in mind that the practice of yoga is meant to serve you. You shouldn't be a slave to it. Enjoy that time to move around and take those big breaths with no distractions, in solitude, often. If you have an injury, are dealing with chronic pain, mental health issues, or are just lacking motivation, these are perfect times to establish a relationship with a yoga teacher who can help you through your journey so you make the most of your time on your mat.