I’ve been practicing yoga for many years, but not very consistently. My practice has been on and off, as busyness and distractions have got in the way. I’m a firm believer in the spiritual, mental and physical benefits of yoga, but I’ve struggled to fit it into my daily life.
Well, I’ve finally got into the habit of practicing yoga. Every. Single. Day. And the solution has been very simple.
The key has been to simplify my practice. By doing this, I let go of the expectation that my routine had to be “perfect” and had to include every yoga pose under the sun. This completely turned things around. A yoga session no longer consisted of me wasting time getting dressed in the perfect yoga outfit, hastily moving all of my furniture to make space and searching through YouTube videos to find the best class ever created. Now my practice was just about me and the mat.
I’m going to share with you 4 simple tips for making yoga a daily habit. I’ll also share with you the exact poses that make up my 15-minute daily practice.
1. Shorten your practice.
I used to think that a yoga practice had to be 30 minutes to an hour to count as a respectable practice. If I didn’t have that block of time available or if practicing for that length of time seemed daunting, I wouldn’t practice that day.
This meant that if I was busy or tired or just not feeling it, I wasn’t practicing at all. The problem is that most of us are either busy, tired, or not feeling it every day of the week! A 30 to 60 minute yoga practice can too easily get pushed aside.
Don’t get caught up in trying to do a complete workout everyday. Instead, think short and sweet. If you think you can fit in 10 minutes of yoga a day, that’s wonderful. 5 minutes? Still great. Choose an amount of time that seems comfortable for you and your practice won’t be something you dread.
Here’s my 15-minute daily practice:
- 15 x full push-ups
- 60 x knee push-ups
- 70 x bicycle crunches
- 1 x Butterfly Pose
- 1 x Head-to-knee Pose (both sides)
- 1 x Seated Forward Bend
- 1 x Plow Pose
- 3 x Wheel Pose alternated with 3 x Happy Baby Pose
- 1 Minute Dolphin Plank Pose
- 1 (or more) Child’s Pose
- 3 x Sun Salutations
Committing to a shorter routine has upped my yoga game entirely. A daily practice used to seem unreachable but realizing that I don’t have to do a full routine every time has got me practicing much more consistently. A mindset change is everything!
For years I couldn’t do a single push-up and full Chaturanga was out of the question. I was so excited the first time I realized I could do Chaturanga without putting my knees down! And all I’ve been doing is this simple routine in my living room.
P.S. Your daily practice doesn’t have look anything like mine and should never be set in stone. Our bodies feel different every day and making adjustments in our practice means we’re paying attention. When I feel up for a longer practice, I sometimes add a few poses. But if my body (or mind) doesn’t feel good on a certain day, I allow myself to shorten or skip the practice without berating myself in any way. Listen to yourself!
2. Don’t wait for the perfect moment.
While doing yoga in the middle of a chaotic household may not be ideal, sometimes you gotta embrace the pandemonium. If you wait for the perfect moment to lay out your mat in peace, you’ll likely wait several days (or years) for your next practice.
Instead, when inspiration strikes, find a spot in your home that’s big enough for your mat and just do it. This usually means letting go of the idea of a calm and quiet practice and accepting the distraction of a maniacal cat crawling all over your mat.
Psst! It can be hard to find a moment when you’re completely free from distractions. So, guess what? I sometimes practice in front of the TV! Okay, I know this is not exactly being “in the moment”, but it works for me. So if once in a while your daily yoga coincides with catching the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory, so be it.
3. Make your practice part of your routine.
The key to making your yoga practice a habit is associating it with a part of your daily routine. For example, I like to do my daily yoga after I shower. I tend to take my showers at the same time every day, so this guarantees that I’m reminded to practice yoga every day, too.
By associating yoga practice with the activity of showering, I’ve formed a habit that is no longer something I have to think about. I don’t question how I’ll fit yoga into my day, because l know there’s room for it right after my shower. Your schedule might be a little different. Maybe you’d like to do yoga every morning after brushing your teeth, or every evening when you come home from work. Whatever it is, choose what works and stick with it.
4. Make practicing easy for you.
The final tip is to make your practice as convenient as you can. When forming a habit, there’s always an excuse for avoiding it. My yoga outfit is in the wash. The coffee table is in the way. I can’t find my yoga block… So make getting on that mat as easy for you as you can. Here’s how:
- Keep your yoga equipment in the same room you practice in. I used to keep my yoga mat in my bedroom even though I always practice in my living room. Every evening when it came time to practice, I’d go into my bedroom, into my closet, grab my mat and drag it over to the living room. Even though these two rooms are relatively close together, when the inspiration came to practice, I dreaded the extra step of going to get the mat. I even dreaded putting the mat back in the bedroom closet after practice (don’t judge me! I know you’ve been there!). Then one day it occurred to me to simply move my mat to my living room closet – a stroke of genius, I know. And problem solved!
- Don’t waste time picking out the perfect yoga outfit. While you definitely want to be comfortable during yoga practice, you don’t need to look presentable at home. I’m a huge fan of loungewear, so when I’m at home, I’m wearing sweatpants, leggings or pyjamas full-time. Because any of these work fine for quick at-home yoga, I rarely change clothes before practicing. Easy peasy!
- Find a designated spot in your home that’s always free for your mat. If you don’t already have a free space big enough for your mat, create one. Try to find a space that’s never occupied by furniture. If you know you’re going to have to rearrange furniture twice just for a short practice, you’re going to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. Simplicity is key!
I hope these tips have helped you simplify your yoga routine and get more yoga into your life! Remember to think short and sweet and let go of any expectations for the perfect practice. Most importantly, have compassion for yourself and allow yourself to follow your own pace :).
P.S. Thinking of taking your yoga moves to a group session? Check out my 5 Essentials To Bring To Yoga Class.