Every yogi knows that a goal is to develop a personal practice so that we can take responsibility for the transformation that yoga creates.
Knowing how to lead ourselves through a practice that both challenges and inspires us is the ultimate way to engage ourselves as spiritual practitioners.
Lofty goals aside, it can be challenging to remain inspired to step onto the mat without the guidance of a teacher or without the external trappings of the yoga studio. Here are five tips on how to build a consistent yoga routine:
1. Create the Space—Set aside a small part of your home that is dedicated to your practice. Even if your mat is folded up when your finished, a small altar of sacred items can be a visual reminder of the powerful effects of your practice and put you in the yogic frame of mind with just one glance.
The more you use this space to practice, the more charged it will be, and ready to refuel you each time you bring your hands to prayer pose.
2. Engage the Ritual—As with any practice, consistency is key. Each time you begin your practice, mark it with some powerful gesture, symbol or affirmation to put your whole being in that frame of mind. Maybe you chant Om. On the days that it feels like that’s all you can do, even just the chanting of Om feels significant and restorative. And, sometimes, just this beginning will be all it takes to breath life into a more complete practice.
3. Empower Yourself—Understand what your practice can be, rather than setting some unattainable ideal. Not everyone has two hours for a yoga practice, and all the good yogis know that five minutes is better than no minutes. If life feels hectic, start small and be proud of even the smallest steps on the way to building a tradition for yourself as natural as brushing your teeth. For a little help on where to begin, try the Liberate Your Practice course on Udemy.com. I created it especially to provide all the tools you need to confidently develop a safe and sound home practice,by supporting you with video guidance and lectures.
4. Know the Goal—This is funny, because in yoga, there is no end goal. Rather, knowing the goal means understanding that wherever you are and wherever you begin your practice is perfect for that day. After all, the only person we can try to be better than is the person we were yesterday. A yogi might take it a step farther and just say that we can only try and be happier than we were yesterday.
5. Watch the Effects—Make note of every success, even the ones that seem small and insignificant. Our practice leads to greater awareness which, like ripples moving outward in a pond, starts to affect our lives. We may notice that our morning commute results in less stress, it’s easier to deal with our boss, we check our blackberry less at our son’s basketball game.
All of these personal changes are a result of a consistent yoga practice. As the practice works it’s way more deeply into our bodies and minds, the world around us becomes just as at ease as we become with ourselves.
I once saw a gilded album cover that read, “When life gives you lemons, you paint that s*!t gold.” I thought to myself, “Yeah, man, there’s a guy who got the point.” Forget lemonade and adding something sweet to change what is already sour. Rather, just take what you have, bring it into the light and give it some value. That’s what our practice does for us. No matter what we have, our practice lightens us up and shows us the golden value of our human existence.