I'm at the point in my yoga practice now where if I don't carve out time to spend on my mat for two days or more, I feel a difference in myself. I'm less settled, I'm stressed, my anxiety levels start to rise and I'm just a little less happy.
When I do make time for yoga every day, I'm the version of myself that I am most proud of. I feel like I am living in every corner of my body and mind, and using that energy to carry me through life in a way that makes me feel more fulfilled than I ever have before.
When I set out this winter to take it easy, come back to myself and really work on my foundations to make sure I was in a good place to start making things happen, I knew that yoga would be a big part of it. I've always done yoga a bit, here and there, never really committing but loving the idea of it. I never took the time to work on the foundations of my practice and my mind was too itchy to sit still long enough to hold a pose - it was too busy making lists.
But when I decided to take a few months to invest in myself, I settled more into the idea of making a commitment to take at least 15 minutes a day to do some yoga.
It wasn't easy at first though. My body ached and my mind wandered. I had a few false starts where I hurt myself a little bit and had to give up for a few days. But a part of me really knew what I would get out of it if I just stuck with it, and I craved that peace of mind so much that I just kept going.
The truth of it is there's no quick way to get into it. There's no easy fix or techniques that will grantee that you will stick to anything. It starts with a decision and from there it's a journey. It's about finding what works for you, not getting discouraged by failures or your own weakness when it comes to 'not being bothered'. It's about forgiving yourself and coming home to yourself and just believing that you absolutely can, if you only give yourself a chance.
I wrote a post a while ago about starting as a fledgling yogi. Since then I've developed a more routine, fully fledged practice, and here are a few of the things that have helped me stick to it...
Carve out a space - find a special corner in your home that feels great to do yoga in. Mine is the spot right between my bed and the radiator.
Carve out a time - every day after walking the dog is yoga time for me. Without fail.
Beware of a gap in routine - if I skip a few days, I'm more likely to skip a few weeks/months. I have to be mindful of that.
Start where you are, with what you have - I just started with a mat, and as tempting as it was to buy all those fancy yoga clothes, I use them now as treats for sticking with it instead of as an intensive to start.
Make plans - my plans revolve around my yoga practice a lot now. When I go out, when I come home, it all needs to fit in around getting the yoga time I need.
Now that it has been six weeks and I have been doing yoga almost every day, even when I was in Senegal, I feel like it's not going anywhere. I'm not saying I won't fall off the yoga wagon, but I pushed through the tricky stage at the beginning and now I'm really enjoying it - I'm even a little bit in love with it in a weird way. I've graduated from the spot next to the radiator in my bedroom, to the middle of the living room floor as I've grown from a small practice to a more expansive one. And I keep my mat rolled out under the carpet in my living room, so that it's always there, ready and waiting.
It feels like I’m starting a really good book, and in a few years’ time I’m going to look back and wish that I could start from the beginning again with fresh eyes because it was so wonderful reading it the first time.