One of the yoga and meditation struggles I hear about the most, and that I’ve struggled with myself, is creating a consistent yoga practice. Getting on the mat or meditation cushion every day (or most days) is harder than it sounds. Life is busy, things come up, we get tired. Shit happens. If you’re like me, you’re then hard on yourself for not practicing, which creates this vicious cycle of no practice + beating myself up.
It’s ugly and it sucks, and I’d like to help you avoid it.
If you’ve been struggling to get consistent with yoga and/or meditation, and if you’ve been beating yourself up about it, I want you to take a deep breath right now, and on your exhale, let that shit go.
Yes, consistency makes a difference and is hugely beneficial, but being kind to yourself is far more beneficial, so send yourself some love.
Now, let’s work on cultivating that consistent yoga practice!
Why does consistency matter?
The benefits of yoga and meditation for the body, mind, and spirit are numerous. If you’re here and you’re reading this, then you probably already know that. But these practices are not intended to be used like a band-aid, applied only in times of greatest need.
A consistent yoga practice on a regular schedule is key to seeing the maximum results. Here’s why…
Practice Makes Progress
Progress in anything is made up of a series of steps, not a one-off attempt. By definition, progress is movement or development; it doesn’t happen one time.
A single yoga class or meditation session will create a new level of development in your body and mind. Each following session builds on the previous one to continue your upward progress. If too much time passes in between, your body and mind will likely settle back into their original states. When you pick it up again, you’re right back where you started. You’re treading water rather than moving forward.
The Motivation Factor
Motivation also suffers from lack of consistent practice. When you experience a particularly energizing yoga class or a deeply satisfying mediation, those feelings stay with you, which makes it easier to get back on the mat next time. When you begin to skip sessions, those feelings start to face, and it starts to become easier to find excuses to stay off the mat.
Inconsistent practice can also lead to injury. The more you practice, the more you’ll increase tone and flexibility, as well as build muscle. Too much time off can cause your tendons and ligaments to begin tightening up again. When you return to your mat, you might think that your body is capable of what you were able to do during your last practice, and you could push yourself too far.
A successful yoga and meditation practice is one that becomes a habit (like brushing your teeth). We create habits by rewiring the circuits in the brain through repetition. Each time you practice yoga or meditation, that particular circuit becomes a bit stronger, and it’ll fire that much quicker the next time. Meaning that the habit is building and it’s requiring less effort and willpower on your part.
How do we get consistent?
A wonderful strategy for building consistency and maintaining motivation is to practice in a group setting. The social aspect of meeting people and making new friends can be a powerful reason to continue, and you’re less likely to miss a class if you know that others will expect you to be there. Plus, there’s really nothing like sharing the breath and the collective consciousness with a group of like-minded yogis!
However, I know that a regular studio practice is not feasible for everyone. If you’re looking to develop a consistent yoga practice in your home, here are 6 tips!
1. Find an online tribe
If practicing in a group setting is not feasible for you, but you’d still like to experience the community aspect, find yourself an online tribe. With the power of the internet, we can connect with like-minded yogis all around the globe from the comfort of our homes! How awesome is that?!
There are many yoga communities on Facebook, including our very own Roaming Yogi Kula, where I share a yoga class, a tutorial, and a guided meditation every week! If you’d like to join us, you can do so here!
2. Start Small
Set yourself up for success by starting small. If you’re just starting out, it’s likely unrealistic that you’ll get on your mat every single day for 60-90 minutes. To start, commit to practicing just three times per week for just 15 minutes. If you practice for longer or get in an extra day, that’s a bonus! Over time you can add days, or extend the length of your practices, but start with an attainable goal.
There are no rules about how long your yoga or meditation practice should be. The only thing that matters is that you show up on the reg and do the damn thing. Frequency of practice over length of practice 😉
Get out your calendar and schedule in your practice time. Literally, write it down just like you would any other important appointment. Because it is an important appointment. Arguably the most important! What’s more important than an appointment with yourself?!
The tendency is to prioritize our outward responsibilities (family/friends/work), but in order to show up for those responsibilities as your best self, you have to take the time for you first. We all know that you’re the best version of yourself when you take time for yourself, so make it a priority. Your family/friends/coworkers will thank you 🙂
4. Make Space
Decide on a practice space. One that is inviting; where you want to spend some time. If you can, decorate it with some calming colors and accents that make you happy. If you have the room, leave your mat out so it’s ready and waiting for you anytime.
Please know that you don’t need a separate dedicated space in order to practice. In reality, all you need is enough room for your body to move and/or sit in. If the only space you have is your kitchen floor, then that works just fine. Your yoga space can be dual purpose.
The important thing is having a space where you go to practice so that when you pass it, it calls you to get on your mat.
5. Morning Magic
One of the best times to practice yoga is first thing in the morning, as the sun rises. The distractions of the day haven’t had time to grab you yet (don’t open your phone first!), and although the body might be a bit stiff, the mind is usually crystal clear.
This is one of my tips for a consistent yoga practice, because it’s a great way to make sure you actually get on your mat. Get it done before you can talk yourself out of it, or the trajectory of your day convinces you that you’re too tired, or have too much to do.
Now if you’re rolling your eyes, thinking, I am just NOT a morning person, hear me out.
Starting the day with yoga increases mental clarity and mindfulness, and it kickstarts the physical body, setting you up for a successful day. It also sets the tone for your whole day – a positive, accomplished tone.
For most of us, the only way to fit yoga into the morning is to get up earlier, so why not give it a try? If you hate it, you never have to do it again.
Getting on the mat with consistency is important because it is through consistency that we reap the benefits of yoga and meditation. But you’re going to miss days. You’re going to get sick. You’re going to get busy. Shit’s going to happen.
And that’s ok. You’re awesome even when you miss a day.
Be kind with yourself. Especially on days when you don’t make it onto the mat, because those are the days you need it most.
Commit to Your Practice
If you’d like some guidance in implementing these six tips, join me in Commit to Your Practice: A 5-day Yoga + Meditation Challenge!
This challenge is perfect for anyone wanting to start or refresh their yoga practice. The aim is to give you the tools to develop a consistent yoga practice.
Do you have any other tips for developing a consistent yoga practice? Please share them in the comments, or come on into our online tribe, The Roaming Yogi Kula, and share them there!