We all know how hard it can be to keep a daily practice.
Right after a beautiful retreat or great teacher training, it seems so easy, but then you get home and the “daily” slowly becomes five times per week, then two times per week….then before you know it, it’s 30 minutes in the morning of looking at other yogis on Instagram while you munch on a muffin and vanilla latte.
It’s not an easy task to get on your mat everyday. It’s even harder when you’re traveling or constantly in a new place. Believe me, I know!
Just in the last few years my travel mat has been to East and West Africa, every corner of India, cabin 416 on a trip to Antarctica, the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City, several rooftops in Kathmandu and Everest Base Camp.
When you’re on the road, to even lay out your mat can require moving furniture, dusting off front stoops and getting a little closer than you might like to that 1970’s hotel carpet. We do it anyways because we know it is going to be worth it.
It has taken me more than a decade to establish a daily practice. I still have my moments when I wake up and think, “maybe today I can skip.” It is on those days that I need these five reminders:
1. If not now, when?
Think of the last time you said, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Did you?
So many times that moment is fleeting. It slips by and things remain unchanged. So often opportunities pass us by because we don’t see them in front of us. Acting on the now can be one of the most powerful mechanisms to changing your life. Let today be the day that you surprise yourself.
2. Returning to the practice is the most important part of the practice.
Sri K Prattabi Jois said, “Do your practice and all is coming.” He didn’t say, read, look or think about practicing. He said, “Do.” That’s because to truly make progress, we must immerse ourselves in the practice, and that can only be accomplished through action.
Commit to the simple act of laying your mat out everyday. Take a moment to simply stand or sit on it. See how it feels and see if you can allow the practice to flow through you. By just stepping on your mat, you’ve already accomplished the hardest part of the practice.
3. It gives you a foundation to get through the rough patches.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to establish a daily a practice, then you probably already know—it creates a safe place, a foundation and consistency to your life that can get you through even the hardest moments of uncertainty. You will always know that no matter what life throws at you (a divorce, a move, seemingly unending unemployment, a deployment or a loss), you always have your practice to come back to and rely upon. Even if everything else changes, your mat will always be there waiting for you.
4. It opens you up to new experiences.
We’ve all experienced how yoga can make us happier, more receptive and forgiving. It’s one of the reasons this practice is so addictive. Aren’t those the traits that you want to carry with you into each new day, especially in those moments when things are in flux, you’re travelling or searching for a new job?
By getting on your mat everyday, you open yourself up and allow the universe to drop new and wonderful things into your lap. You open your mind and heart so that when you feel the thud, you actually take the time to look down and pick all those wonderful things up.
5. You don’t need a mat to get on your mat.
When you don’t have your mat, remember that this seven foot by three foot piece of rubber is only a prop. The true mat lies right beneath your feet.
It’s so easy to get intimidated or discouraged by thinking that your practice needs to always be the same two-hour asana (pose) sequence. We all know that life isn’t usually that predictable, and that yoga (union) is actually so much more. Whether your practice is a 15-minute meditation, a walk through the woods or 108 perfectly executed sun-salutes doesn’t matter.
It only matters that you were there and present.
Use the world as your mat and the people around you as your teachers. Suddenly you’ll realize that you really can get on your mat everyday, because no matter where you are, the practice you need is right in front of you.
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Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Author’s Own