by Shannon E. Crow of Sacred Awareness

My summer has been wonderful in terms of camping, gardening, relaxing, spending time with my children, making it to every soccer game, swimming, cooking, laughing, sleeping in and spending lots of time with my partner, friends and family.  What has not been so wonderful in all of this sunshine and fun is my regular daily yoga practice.

I know all of the benefits of yoga (I wrote an article last month!) and I know for myself, yoga and meditation are the foundation of my day.  Now with the inspiration of September schedules and the energy of everyone else getting back to class, how can I find the time and motivation to return to my own daily practice?

Some people may think that because I teach yoga, I am getting my yoga practice checked off my list for that day, but talking, teaching and watching students isn’t practicing yoga.  I am a better teacher when I am a regular student.

After spending some time reading about how others have found motivation to maintain a yoga practice, I have compiled a list.

Have you experience something similar?  What has pulled you away from your yoga practice or exercise routine and what helps to keep you on track?  Take a moment to answer these questions here and we will share the results in our next newsletter.

Adjust Your Mindset
Instead of thinking of your yoga practice as time away from work or family, think of how you are better at all of the roles in your life when you make time for yourself.  I like this video with Debbie Rocker that tells us to think like an athlete. 

Set a Concrete Goal
Write out your goal, post it where you can see it and share it with your support network.  State how you are feeling now and how you hope to be feeling in three months.  Some people find it helpful to track their progress in a chart, journal or even with a fancy app (like Healthy Habits)

Ask for Help
Asking for help can be as hard as a handstand for me – just ask my partner, but it is the most beneficial!  Find a friend, an online group (maybe a Facebook group) or go to a class to meet friends with similar goals.  Also don’t forget that your teacher is a huge part of your support team.  Share your goal with your teacher, ask for suggestions and encouragement.

Make It an Easy Habit
“The best class is the one closest to your house,” said a very wise teacher of mine.  Pick a class that you can easily attend.  Sometimes this means a 5am class in a quiet room at home.  I think it is very important to have an at home practice every day, even just for 15 minutes.  Doing a bit of yoga every day makes it a habit and is better than not doing it at all.  Going to a class 1-2 times a week is also ideal for new inspiration, motivation, community and learning.

Decide to Do It
Getting to your mat is the hardest part – sometimes we really don’t feel like leaving the comfort of home or favorite cozy chair.  We feel tired from the day and unable to face another thing, yet when we get to class we feel so much better.  You may encounter this battle of mind over matter every day.  Try to just make it to your mat even if you only practice for five minutes – we usually feel so good once we begin that we continue longer.

Rewards and Incentive
Read about the benefits of yoga, watch online videos about yoga, create a nice space in your home if that feels like a reward or buy a “yoga treat” when you have reached a milestone.  Check into the incentives that your studio offers to very regular students.  At the studio I work at you can attend classes every day and still only pay as much as if you were attending twice a week.

Fun and Variety
Vary your classes, instructors, places, props, music and time periodically.  Take a new workshop, (like Dessert Yoga, Meditation or a Round Robin that has many different teachers and styles).  Study yoga – read about the philosophy and get a more in-depth understanding.  Do yoga outside for a change.  Try an online class.

Listen to your Body
If you are feeling tired, do a gentle practice.  When stress is rising, maybe meditation is the focus of your practice.  “Set your intention” is often said at the beginning of a class – take a moment to figure out what you really need out of your yoga practice that day.   Every day is different in our body and it is important to allow your practice to reflect that.

Commit to Yourself
Mark your yoga time on the calendar.  Treat it like you would any important appointment.  Remember that the best thing we can do to serve others is to look after our self first.  For studio classes – pay in advance – many studios offer incentives for early payment and students are more likely to attend when they pay in advance.

Here are the sites I found as I was researching this article – many thanks to: