When I first started practicing yoga, going to class was my saving grace. I would work all day, and it wasn’t until after work that I’d hit my mat. You could say we had a great relationship. Enough so, that I decided to ask her to go steady and jump in to a 200-hour teacher training course.
The second I finished my training, I rushed right into teaching. I picked up every class that I could, and my schedule became full very quickly. I averaged 18 classes a week. I was learning from the act of teaching but I stopped practicing myself. I didn’t have time. My body could only do so much yoga. My classes started to become stale. I was recycling sequences and playlists. My spark even started to dissipate.
I reached out to my mentor and began to tell her that I wasn’t sure I should teach. Through a series of questions she dissected things out. The bottom line that came to light was what I already knew, yet failed to take seriously; I had stopped practicing. I was no longer going to classes. I wasn’t meditating. I was hustling and instead of it making me better, it made me worse. Her sage advice was: “put your mask on first”.
Whether you’re a teacher or a practitioner, there will come a time when your practice starts to slip. So, how do you create a consistent practice?
1. Set a Legit Intention – It’s important to set an intention for yourself. One that is unfailing. No excuses. Even if it’s as simple as “I will practice 20 minutes a day”, set the goal and meet it. I could write an entire post on this, but I’ll leave it at that for now.
2. Understand What Brings You to Your Mat – Be clear about why you practice. Discover your authentic answer. Hone in on the reasoning behind your actions, and the harder it will be to bail out.
3. Study Yourself – Notice what keeps you away from practice. Do you make reasonable (or unreasonable) excuses? ‘I’m too tired’. ‘Today was too crazy’. ‘It’s raining outside’. ‘I ate too much’. What are your go-to’s to skipping out? Even if you don’t make it to class, if you learn this skill of self study, you’re practicing yoga (svadhyaya). Learn from yourself, and don’t get in the way of your own goals.
4. Find Inspiration – There are many avenues to find inspiration for your practice. From going to a public class or following yoga accounts on Instagram, never stop seeking. I’ve often found inspiration in a pose itself. I wanted to learn peacock pose, so for almost a year, I practiced it until I knew it inside and out.
5. Grab a Friend – Yoga tends to be a solo sport. It can be helpful to have a friend on your ass who reminds you to go get on your mat (and vice versa). If you can find a yoga buddy, not only will your practice strengthen, your friendship will too.
6. Challenge Yourself to Grow – Why? Because the way you do yoga is the way you do everything else in life. The minute you think you’ve arrived is the very moment you stop growing. Even if you’ve mastered every asana (HA!) there is still much to work on. Yoga is an eight limbed path. Never stop growing inside of it.
In the end, it’s all about dedication. What ever it is you love, if you give it your time and attention you will get better at it. To simplify this statement; if you want to learn how to do a handstand, practice it everyday. You will learn how to do a handstand. That’s the way it works. Dedicate yourself to the thing you love, be consistent, and it will give back.