“Practicing yoga is the ultimate form of self love and self care”
One of my greatest pleasures as a yoga teacher is to hear that my students have been practicing their yoga at home. Not everyone can afford to go to a class everyday so it is definitely important for your own well being and your bank balance to be able to cultivate and maintain your own yoga practice at home.
Now, I’m not going to sugar coat it; this is often easier said than done. We all live in a very busy and at times, stressful modern day society but this is the best reason to take time out during your day to show yourself some love and to attend to your personal growth.
What does it take to cultivate a meaningful yoga practice?
For those of us (me included) who sometimes struggle with organisation and motivation, a daily practice will take desire, time, commitment, dedication and discipline. I know, all of these words sound very heavy but it’s really not that scary. I’m not saying you need to set aside several hours in your day for your practice, it’s important to start small and work your way up to a practical and meaningful amount of time per day that works for you.
And the best bit about yoga is that it isn’t just all about the asanas, there’s so much more to it. Yoga is an all inclusive life philosophy with many different aspects. On a day where your body is not feeling up to practicing the asanas, take some time out to practice your breathing or meditation instead or if you are feeling like a superhuman, spend a bit of extra time on self enquiry or giving back to your community. The possibilities are endless!
There are a multitude of benefits that come from practicing yoga and there really is no better time to start than now.
Here are just some of the benefits of a daily practice –
- You will become physically fitter, stronger, more flexible and more mobile
- Can reduce or eradicate chronic pain
- You will become less stressed, have a much calmer state of mind and it boosts mental health
- It allows you to practice self love, self care and self acceptance
- Increases patience with yourself and others
- Grounds you and places you in the present moment
- You will be showing dedication and commitment to yourself – prioritising yourself
- Increases a positive outlook on life
- It allows you to get to know and learn how to respect your body and its limitations
- You will begin to use your lungs to their fullest capacity
- It can restore inner balance and connects your mind and body
- Everything we feel and experience on the mat and how we cope with those feelings can be translated to regular life and how we deal with different situations there also
Ways to cultivate a daily yoga practice –
- Make a plan – decide what you want to work on, don’t overload yourself in the beginning, just approach one thing at a time. Decide how long you want to set aside each day, whether it’s 10 mins a day for mediation or 10 mins of asana practice. Decide what time of day you want to practice and be prepared to stick to it.
- Start small – Probably the best bit of advice when starting out with anything new is to start small and build something big from there. Rome wasn’t built in a day and building a daily practice is no different. There is no point in taking on too much, becoming overwhelmed and then giving up. Begin with a realistic and manageable amount of time and goals and increase it gently over time until you are happy and content with your daily offering.
- Find your yoga – have a go at practicing different styles of asana to find which you like best. Invest in an online studio membership or join a group class in a studio or even invest in private sessions. Free online yoga classes are great too and can be easily found on YouTube.
- Create a sacred space for your home practice, somewhere clean and quiet, without distractions. You may want to burn incense and surround yourself with crystals or you may just want your mat and some sunlight shining in.
- Prioritise yourself – insist that your health, wellbeing and longevity is the most important thing and know that by maintaining your daily practice, you will be showing yourself the love and respect you deserve.
Ways to maintain your daily yoga practice –
- It has been said that it takes a ‘minimum’ of 21 days to form a new habit. I have always found that a little ‘too good to be true’ and knowing myself, I’m pretty stubborn so 3 weeks is definitely not long enough for me. After some extra reading, I have learned that it takes on average 66 days to form a new habit but this can obviously vary from person to person. Basically the longer you persevere, the better off you’ll be. So make a commitment to yourself to practice every day, stick to it, even when you don’t want to and give yourself the gift of time, energy and self love.
- Join a community and/or invite a friend. There’s nothing better than real actual humans to make you accountable. It’s pretty easy to let a day, a week or a month slide but when you go to group classes and/or invite friends to practice along with you, it can sometimes be easier to show up because not only do you not want to let yourself down but you don’t want to let others down also.
- Be kind and compassionate with yourself. We are all human and sometimes we fall off the band wagon and that’s ok. Sometimes we are too stressed to think about anything else or we are just bogged down by too many commitments or life just happens and we begin to neglect our practice and ourselves. All of these things are ok. Be kind and patient with yourself and when the time is right, begin your practice again.
Practicing yoga is the ultimate form of self love and self care. When we begin to live a yogic lifestyle, subtle changes begin to happen and these small changes then naturally progress into big shifts. Shifts in perception; of yourself, others and the world around you. Shifts in your energy; with positive and dynamic energy shining through. Shifts in your health; mental, physical and spiritual. Shifts in your connection; connection of your mind, body and spirit, connection to other beings and connection to nature. And shifts in your presence; yoga grounds you and brings you into the present moment, it allows you to see things objectively and allows you the space to breathe in love and positivity and breathe out fear and negativity.
Love Kat xx