8 Easy Steps to Start and Sustain a Yoga Practice.
Have you noticed how more and more people are turning into yoga every day? Whether they are looking to loose weight or to release stress, yoga is becoming more and more popular across the Globe. You see celebrities, professional sport athletes even doctors endorsing the benefits this practice can bring to your life. No wonder why everyone is giving it a try.
Many people are asking questions like “Why is everyone practicing yoga?” “Why now?” After all, yoga has been around for at least 5000 years. Even though this is true, it is now more than ever that we need yoga the most. These days, we seem to live our lives with more stress, more things to do, more things to accomplish. Yoga is giving us an opportunity to find ways to release stress, relax and live more meaningful lives.
I personally believe that the key to practicing yoga is consistency. It does not matter what type of yoga you practice, if you practice at home, in a studio or gym. It does not matter what type of mat you have and if you wear super cool yoga clothes. What really matters is that you practice consistently.
Here are 8 easy steps you can take to start and establish a yoga practice for years to come:
– Be realistic with your expectations: Start where you are today. The beautiful thing about yoga is that it is for everyone regardless of age, gender, body type, etc. Do your homework and see what classes or videos are best for you. What type of experience and trainings your teachers have, etc. The best informed you are the better your choice will be. But remember that it does not matter if you were an athlete when you were 18 years old, if you never practice yoga before, start with a beginner class. You can always take other classes if you feel you can do more.
– Be kind to yourself and listen to your body. Your body knows what it can do. Yoga is not a competitive sport where you need to push toward the end to win. If you push your body too hard, you probably will stop liking yoga or worse, you may hurt yourself and stop your practice all together.
– Add it to your schedule. See how many times you can honestly commit to yourself and to your practice. Many people want to jump head first and do as many classes in the first few weeks. They think that in this way they can achieve all the benefits people talk about as quickly as possible. The truth is that you will see benefits even if you can only commit to a yoga practice twice per week. This will help you continue a steady practice for months and even years rather that start strong for 2 weeks and then stop completely.
– Create a sacred space for your practice. If you are starting a home Yoga Practice, find a space just for you. It does not matter if is just a small area big enough for your mat or an entire room. Create a place where you feel special, where you can connect with your breath and your practice. Maybe light incense or have some flowers. Create your own sanctuary. If you are planning on going to a studio or gym, then create your sacred space within you…..in your mat… You don’t have to be fancy just willing.
– Practice at the same time everyday to establish a routine. Once you begin to see the difference your yoga practice starts to make in your life, you will be looking for more ways to make this practice a part of your daily routine. Once your practice becomes fully established in your routine you don’t have to think twice about it. You just do it like when you brush your teeth, you do it because it makes you feel good.
– Go for quality rather than quantity. Let go of time. It does not matter if you practice for 2 hours or for 20 minutes. What matters is the quality of your practice along with the consistency of it. You don’t have to practice daily for 2 hours (unless you want to and have the time) to get many of the benefits yoga has to offer. You may find that for you a simple 20-minute practice gives you all you need.
– Have Fun and enjoy your “me” time! During this time nothing else matters but you, your breath and your practice. Make it fun. Play some cool music that inspires you, turn off your phone, play around and don’t get caught up on how you think you should look like. Just move your body and concentrate on what you are feeling.
– Don’t give up. Life happens and sometimes our yoga practice falls between the cracks. If you fall off the wagon, start again. Remember that every step you take towards your well-being is never wasted.
Give it a try. You may be surprised by the results.
If you have any additional suggestions, I would love to hear all about them. Feel free to leave a comment or two.
Love and Peace,
So you decided to expand your knowledge and sign up for teacher training huh? Well get ready, you are in for a treat!
This day reminds me of my first day of Maha Shakti Teacher Training last year. I was so nervous, I could hardly sleep the night before… no really, I was excited and anxious and very self conscious of my yoga practice. As I looked around the room at these beautiful yogini (we had no boys that round) I thought, “what am I doing here? These ladies obviously know more than I do about , well, EVERYTHING”! I was like a kid in kindergarten… sizing everyone up, figuring out who they were before they even opened their mouths… BOY, WAS I WRONG about everyone of them! I don’t mean I was being necessarily critical, just thinking I could tell who was whom just by observing them. What actually happened was this, this group, or KULA as we were called, transformed me.
Now, I work with people very closely every day, but it had been a long time since I was EXPOSED.
When Adri and Amy told us to find a partner and start teaching her yoga… I froze. I lost my words. I forgot how to do any of the postures. Gone from my brain was everything I knew about my own practice… I was self conscious about everything… My brain said” your’re too old to start this thing, stick with what you know, you don’t have the body for a yoga instructor, what makes you so special that someone would want to learn this from you?” Panic.
I went home and didn’t sleep , I kept playing my day over and over. Then it hit me… “I don’t KNOW this”. That’s it, simply put, it had been a very long time since those words have rang in my ear… like learning a different language, or a new dance step… and then having to teach it to someone else! UGH!
Well, I will spare you the long story although it didn’t take that long actually. I overcame my stagefright, I started feeling alot less self conscious and I am actually starting to teach yoga this month at the City of Dallas Churchill Recreation center as an independant vendor, all thanks to Adri and Amy and their Maha Shakti Teacher Training that made me the teacher on the first day. Yes I survived …and thrived!
…and so will you!
As we get closer to the start of our Maha Shakti Teacher Training , I am reminded of just how enthusiastic I was when I made the decision to further my practice and become a teacher. Just this morning as I opened an e mail from one of our new students I read the words , ” I was sooo excited to get this e mail”, and I was right there with her!
What’s even more rewarding for me is that as I answered her questions and connected her to a mentor/graduate of the Maha Shakti program, I felt the “connection” we talk about in the yoga community. It is such a pleasure to assist others who like me, are ready to branch out and do something different with their lives.
This is more than just a Yoga Teacher Training course… it is a commitment to oneself to reach higher, to open your mind and to learn for the simple sake of knowledge itself what it is like to be part of a new community. In short, being a student of the Maha Shakti 200 RYT is a commitment to GROW.
This is the point…is it not ? I mean of 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings and being certified by the Yoga Alliance. The whole idea of becomming a teacher of anything is to have your influence continue without really knowing where or HOW it will be translated by your student. Afterall, the yogis that began teaching their unique approach to this practice (preparing the body for meditation ) could not have imagined where their instruction and insights would manifest centuries later in 2012. Basically, we as instructors of any kind simply transfer our knowledge based on experience(s) to willing students, who then begin the process of filtering that knowledge through their own experiences – adding some elements here, taking some out there… and so on.
We are never just one teacher’s student… we employ others on a regular basis to guide us as we develop our knowledge. However, as students, we strive to connect with our teachers on a deeper level in order to grow personally….spiritually. It is vital that we understand the responsibility we have when a student comes to us for direction and education. That as mentors we are sharing our knowledge through our own filter, and that our student has his/her own filter with which to examine and translate the information.
So as I read this quote, I was reminded that with our actions, words and deeds we have a responsibility as teachers … to create a relationship that supports and encourages the growth of our student on many levels, even if it means we discover our own room for growth. Either way, student or teacher, it is an invaluable relationship and a worthwhile journey.