How To Make Yoga Part of Your Daily Life
Make it attractive.
Remember the first day you took a yoga class?
It was a day when you walked out of the studio with the perfect glow. The day you thought, ‘I’m going to practice yoga 4x a week… no, every day is better.’
The experience is exhilarating; the practice, uplifting. It moves and transforms most students that try. It builds a desire to continue practicing. The benefits of yoga are innumerable: mental clarity, focus, awareness, strength, flexibility.
Weeks after that first class, reality sets in. You don’t have the time anymore. You’d rather do something else. A new workout becomes more interesting.
In ancient days, yogis practiced every day.
In those days in India, yoga was considered an esoteric practice suitable for monks, sadhus and sannyasis but not for the householder, who might lose all worldly interest and abandon his family by undertaking the practice. -Eddie Stern, 2010.
We’re lucky. Anyone can practice yoga today and you, too, can make it a daily habit.
First, let’s define what a habit is.
A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic.
‘Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies thru compound interest, the effect of your habits multiply as you repeat them.’ -James Clear
Why should you make yoga a habit?
Because the practice can transform you and make you better in all aspects of life! It’s that simple.
Yoga is a habit that can change you physically, mentally, and spiritually. It will strengthen you, teach you how to focus and breathe properly, and maybe even create an opening to seek transcendence.
Here are 5 ways to make yoga a part of your daily routine.
1. Say ‘no’ to goal-setting.
While 30-day challenges are great to complete, they do not make these to help you in the long term. Focus on the process instead.
We’ve become a generation of goal-seekers, achievers, and influencers. There’s always a dangling carrot we chase. There’s an endless pursuit of success.
If you want to make yoga a part of your daily routine, don’t force yourself. It might turn you away from yoga and lead you to stop.
Forget about goals. Focus on systems instead. -James Clear
Ease into the practice slowly and be grateful for it afterward. Start with a schedule of 3x a week, then add more hours of practice time.
At the same hour every day, show up on your mat and practice for 5 or 10 minutes, that’s it. If you feel like making it longer, go ahead. What matters is showing up.
2. Reward yourself.
Make yoga a satisfying activity despite the occasional body pains.
James Clear talks about the Law of Behavior Change in his book, Atomic Habits. To change a behavior, make the habit satisfying.
‘What is rewarded is repeated. What is punished is avoided.’ -James Clear
We change our ways when we know we will benefit from it.
In school, students study hard to get good grades so their parents can get them a new computer. Kids do their chores to get paid a few bucks. Adults follow office rules and systems to get on the good side of the boss.
Why not try the same method for your practice?
After a streak of 5 days, treat yourself to gelato. Or simply give yourself a pat on the back when you showed up and completed 5 sun salutations.
3. Make it attractive.
Use the right equipment. Give yourself enough space. Clean the area before practicing. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Do anything that will get you ready mentally and physically.
To make my practice attractive, I got myself a high-quality yoga mat and clothes. I never run into problems with clingy leggings and slippery mats. These are wonderful investments if you plan to make yoga a habit. I sweep the floor, fix my hair, and keep the room slightly ventilated. I’m from the Philippines and it’s warm all year long.
‘Self-love and self-care are not something you learn about or practice. They are something you are ethically called to cultivate within yourself, even if they are all that you have left.’ -Mark Manson
Are you practicing in a cramped space? You can move things around so you don’t second-guess your movements.
Do you enjoy listening to music? Create a yoga playlist.
Do you rush into getting up right after practicing? Give yourself 5–10 minutes to rest before moving forward with your day.
To make your practice attractive, make that space something that’s easy to appreciate.
4. Have a buddy, or better, a community.
Enjoy the company of like-minded people. When you share the same practice with others, you become more enthusiastic; you share the same language and energies with them.
I can’t overemphasize the impact of having people encouraging you to keep going. The only people who can do this for you are those who share the same suffering and breakthroughs.
This applies to most sports and interests where people connect on a regular basis to practice together or compete.
To make the habit stick through joining a community, James Clear recommends to ‘join a culture where your desired behavior is normal behavior’.
‘The activity provides some sort of structure for the social interaction, including rules you have to follow, rituals, and often a shared goal.’ -Cal Newport
If you are comfortable meeting people online, make good use of your time by joining groups or forums. Take part.
If you prefer in-person interactions, you can ask your teacher about poses you are having difficulties with, or chat with a couple of students from your class about poses you are working on.
5. Find the right teacher.
This takes time. Just like nomads choosing the country to settle in, take the time to explore. Attend classes before choosing. Discover the teaching style that works for you.
Finding a teacher changed my practice in 3 ways.
First, I now have one person to ask about yoga-related questions.
Second, she knows my body’s limitations and capacities, so it’s easy for me to trust her when she instructs me to do something new and/or difficult.
Third, as her student, I get to know everyone who attends her class and automatically become part of the community.
‘Faith in your teacher builds up overtime. One person should have one teacher.’ -Mozart Reina
When you find your teacher, the best gift you can give to her is to practice consistently and show up to class.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Keep showing up while searching for the teacher who will guide you in your practice.
The only goal is to make the yoga practice stick. To make it part of your day.
If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. -James Clear
The more you repeat the activity, the more your brain changes to become efficient in that activity. More reps, less effort.
Still from the book Atomic Habits, this is described as what neuroscientists call long-term potentiation. It means the ‘strengthening of connections between neurons in the brain based on recent patterns of activity.’
With each repetition, connections tighten.
Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them. -Alfred North Whitehead
Simply said, to make the yoga practice part of your daily routine, start by repeating the practice every day.
Stop planning, start practicing. Get those reps in.
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