You started to practice yoga for a lot of good reasons. Who doesn’t want to be more flexible, stronger, in mind and body, and have more stamina to say nothing of improved breathing, increased mindfulness and alleviating stress, it’s a no brainer!
You probably began with a once a week class and got hooked. Perhaps you have even been lucky enough to attend a yoga retreat where you have deepened your practice and discovered what works for you.
As great as all that is, to get the fullest benefit yoga needs to become a daily, regular practice which means you do it more days than you don’t.
So here are my top five tips for starting and maintaining a regular yoga practice.
1) SET YOUR INTENTION
It’s no good intending to practice for an hour each morning if you can only manage 15 minutes! Start small and work up. Don’t be daunted or defeatist. Remember this is for YOU (although if you are your BEST YOU your friends, family and colleagues will also benefit!) Make the time, take the time. At home alone you have the freedom to explore and experiment with what works best for you. You have to get comfortable and familiar with your own daily practise. You are unique. Your practice will be too!
2) CHOOSE YOUR POSES
To begin with choose four or five poses that make you feel great! Put them in a sequence. Begin with postures that gently warm up the major muscle groups. Decide how many rounds you want to do and how long for each pose. Give your practice a beginning, middle and end so that it creates its own flow and rhythm. Wind down towards the end and leave enough time at the end for Savasana (corpse pose) Towards the closing moments take a few moments to practise gratitude, to be grateful for what you have to be grateful for.
3) BE CONSCIOUS
Begin each day and your practice with a few moments of stillness. Contemplate how you feel in your body and mind. Practice accordingly so that you are addressing your immediate needs. If you are tired choose a short restorative practice. If you feel a bit airy or ‘all over the place’ do more standing poses to become more grounded. If you are full of energy let your practice reflect that and be vigorous. When your needs and wellness are being met you are more likely to want to practice tomorrow!
4) A DEDICATED SPACE AND TIME
Choose a space in your home for your regular practise. Yoga is meditative as well as physical so choose a place where you can relax and be quiet and still. This space will in time become your peaceful place even when you aren’t on the mat. Try to practice at the same time each day to strengthen the habit and practise as time allows.
5) DON’T GIVE UP
Be patient and be kind to yourself. If you do miss 2 or 3 days do NOT give up. Habits, good and bad take time to become habits. So just as in meditation when your mind wanders and you bring it gently back to your breath without judgment or censure – so it is with your yoga practise. If you have wandered out of your routine for whatever reason, just bring yourself gently back to your mat without beating yourself up! Be committed and finally, ENJOY yourself!
Kosta Miachin is the creator of VIKASA Yoga method – a unique, challenging and effective approach to yoga. He is also the founder of VIKASA Yoga Academy. You can find him online: http://www.vikasayoga.com