November 16, 2010

8 Tips for Committing to a Daily Yoga Practice.

Are you a yoga beginner? Or are you looking to start a daily practice?

Or maybe you’re more like me, whose personal yoga practice of late could be classified as either “dithering” or “nonexistent.” Either way, have I ever got some tips for you! Read on:

1. Tell your most critical friend about your yoga commitment. The friend who never supports anything you do, the friend who believes yoga is for new-age hippies who do nothing but sit around braiding flowers in their hair all day. Imagine the satisfaction you will feel when you prove him or her wrong! Conversely, tell your friend with the best memory – you know, the one who will stand up to make a toast at your wedding ten years from now and say, “I never thought she could commit…we all remember the time she tried yoga!” while everyone laughs uproariously. Think of the embarrassment, the shame!

2. Put away your well-worn VHS copy of “Gentle Yoga for Beginners” and buy a pass at a local studio. Or a membership to a website that streams yoga classes online (MyYogaOnline and YogaVibes are good, in my opinion). Even just for one month. For all you pennywise folk out there, there is no greater motivation to go to a class than knowing you are getting the most bang for your buck! This also gives you the opportunity to try different teachers and/or styles of yoga, which leads me to…

3. Find a teacher and/or style that resonates with you. There’s nothing worse than trying to go to class every day when you’re convinced that if the teacher says, “…and then just smile, and let go…” one more time you will have a conniption fit. Leave the struggle between good and evil for another time and pick classes you genuinely enjoy.

4. Sign up for a 20, 30, 40-day challenge. Yoga studios often hold such challenges as motivation and encouragement for struggling practitioners to commit to a daily practice. Oh, and also because having a regular practice is good for you. There are often special sales on class passes (hooray!), and studios will sometimes put up a tracking chart where you can monitor your progress. Who knew that putting a smiley-face sticker beside your name every day could be so satisfying?

5. Unroll your mat. Not everyone can make it to a studio for a class every day, so practicing at home is a great alternative. Once you’ve unrolled your mat, you have three options: do your practice, leave your mat out to be trampled on and sullied, or put your mat away. In the interest of maximizing opportunity cost, the first choice is ideal. Disclaimer: I did poorly in my Economics class, so don’t take my word for that bit on opportunity cost. Just make the right choice.

6. Put on some music and groove to it. Pick a song and unleash yourself on your mat. Mark Whitwell says that seven minutes of yoga every day is all you need. Deva Premal & Miten’s ‘Drop the Baggage’ is exactly 7 minutes and 1 second. Coincidence? I think not, my friend! (Alternatively, Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’ is just over 7 minutes, if you’re more into that sort of thing…)

7. Take it easy! Nobody said a daily yoga practice has to be a daily Power practice, or a daily Ashtanga practice (okay, maybe somebody actually did, but I disagree). I think that Sundays and Restorative Yoga were made for one another, and if anyone were to tell me otherwise, my mind would officially be blown. Get yourself into Pigeon pose and stay there for five minutes, I dare you. But don’t do it after your morning cup of coffee or you might really want to jump up and fly afterwards.

8. Finally, set an intention. Write it down. Explore the reasons why you want and need to do this for yourself. Make it real. The greatest inspiration often comes from within.

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Julia Lee  |  Contribution: 3,260