In my last post, I suggested that you might consider creating and maintaining your own personal practice. I mentioned a few factors that are key to doing this: setting an intention to practice, finding the time and space to do it, and keeping it short and sweet.
Setting an Intention
Think about why you chose to start taking yoga classes. Perhaps you want to reduce stress, or cultivate a calm, focused mind. Or perhaps you want to decrease pain, become more flexible, or improve your balance. Then think about how you feel after class – taking a wild guess here, let me suggest that you probably feel less stressed, more focused, and more flexible (am I wrong?). So take a minute before you begin your day to set your intention to practice. Remind yourself why you practice yoga, and then scan your schedule in your mind’s eye to find a slot to fit it in. Write it there in ink!
Finding the time
This is a biggie. In our fast-paced lives, it can be really hard to find that aforementioned time slot. Or you might not be able to find a consistent time from day to day. I do recommend consistency, if you can manage it: if you practice consistently at the same time every day, it becomes part of your daily routine. You won’t even have to think much about it: Do you remember the last time you started a new job or school year and had to figure out when to get up, how to get there, what you had to do before leaving home, etc?. The first few times required a bit of concentration and planning but after a while, it became routine so that you didn’t have to think about it.
But if your schedule changes from day to day, I’ll say two things. First, if you can manage to find just a few minutes to do your practice at the same time every day, that can help to anchor you when the rest of your life seems out of control. But secondly, if that’s not possible, any time you can find to practice is better than no time!
Finding the space
If you live alone in a big house, or if you have at least one room that is reserved just for you, you can probably skip this paragraph! For the rest of us, finding space that we can use just for our yoga practice can be an issue. And even if there is space we can use, if we have to move furniture to make space, vacuum up the dog hair on the carpet, and then go digging in the closet for our mat and other props, that’s not going to inspire us to keep practicing. I urge you to find a space that doesn’t require much setup so you don’t sabotage your effort. And if you have your yoga tools and some objects to help inspire you readily at hand, you can create your private yoga space in just a few minutes with just a bit of forethought.
I practice on a rug in front of our couch. I keep my mat and blanket rolled up in a corner next to the couch so it just takes me a minute to set up. I have a few objects that draw me to practice – a small bronze Buddha that my brother brought me from a trip to Tibet, a singing bowl, and a candle – which I’ve set up on a shoebox covered with a colorful cloth that I can pull out and set in front of my mat. You can use any objects that are meaningful to you.
Keeping it Short and Sweet
You may enjoy the long, relatively leisurely practices that we do in class, but it’s probably too ambitious to try those at home, at least not as a daily practice. Trust me – you won’t keep it up if you tell yourself you have to practice at least an hour every day! And it’s not even necessary. A 15 minute practice can be just right, especially if your practice is tailored to your needs. I have a short 15-20 minute practice that I do in the mornings that gets my wonky low back and left shoulder set for the day. I sometimes do a longer practice, but only when I have the time and inclination.
I hope these ideas will inspire you to start your own personal practice. If you’re not sure what you should do in your 15 minute practice, consider working with me privately for a few sessions. We can work together to come up with a practice that will target your particular issues.