Yoga can support you. Make you strong. Soothe your frazzled nervous system. Encourage your tired body to rest. Fire up a sluggish digestive system. Bring fresh blood to stiff muscles. Mobilize the precious joints in your body. Let you release tense feelings. Calm a turbulent mind. Settle into a deeper state of inner peace.
Among so many things, yoga lets us be present for the changes that we’ll inevitably experience in the world around us, and the changes within us.
A yoga practice will always reconnect you to yourself and the insight that lives within every cell of your body. These sensations of interconnectedness and inner peace are comforting, soothing, and empowering during the ups and downs that are a natural part of life.
Whether you’re just starting yoga this year, returning after some time away, or identifying as a well-seasoned yogi, an intelligent, personalized, and adaptable yoga practice can bring you comfort, benefits, and peace for the rest of your life.
Here are 3 tips to developing your lifelong yoga practice:
1. Start Small
A lifelong practice begins one day at a time. All it takes is a few moments each day to make a difference. Small actions add up to big changes.
Consistency is key to maintaining and training yourself to carve out time to practice. It’s easy to find a few minutes each day to practice your pranayama first thing in the morning. You can read from a yoga book before bed to learn more about any of the yoga aspects that most interest you. You can take a 15-minute break from work for a mindful stretch break. You can commit to going to a 60-minute class twice a month.
There’s flexibility in the steps you take, but do make them steady and consistent to honestly develop and inform your practice.
2. Stay Inspired
I like to say, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong” when it comes to yoga. Connect with teachers who make you smile and stay connected to a community that inspires you. Maybe you’ve found “your people” or maybe you’re still looking for a yoga community where you belong.
I truly believe that a yoga practice is as much about the community, support systems, sangha, and friends we make through the sharing of these teachings. Whether it’s the teacher who can help adjust us in a way or the friend that showed us a new style of yoga that entirely changed our lives, the people we meet on the yoga journey are as much a gift as the teachings themselves.
If you’re not inspired, get curious about why and where you’re feeling stuck. After this introspection, branch out and do something about it.
It’s good to try classes with new teachers, take workshops, find an online training that piques your interest, and even consider a retreat to keep the yoga spark alive and well.
3. Remember Your Why
Every once in a while it’s great to reflect on the beginning of your yoga journey. Remember what drew you into your very first class. What did you first think about yoga? How did those first classes make you feel? It’s likely that you’ve felt your sense of being shift.
Generally, yoga promotes a sense of harmony, clarity, and peacefulness that’s hard to explain to someone until they experience it for themselves. Remembering these positive feelings, what you gain, and what you release through the yoga practices helps motivate you to get back onto your mat, again and again.
It’s going to be natural to let your yoga practice and the habit slip away. You might move. Your mom might be diagnosed with cancer. You might have just had a baby. While these are also reasons to turn to yoga, it’s natural that these life circumstances take us away from routines, classes, or access to yoga.
As a practitioner of yoga for 9 years, I’m committed to growing my practice for the rest of my life because yoga makes me a more loving, more discerning person. And those qualities ripple out into every other aspect of my life and my relationship with others in ways that cannot be measured. That’s my why. What’s yours?
Lastly, revisit your personal definition of yoga and what it means to you. When we expand our meaning of yoga from doing poses to a holistic way of being in each moment, we’re liberated to practice even when we skip a day of physical practice. You might think that yoga is a sun salutation, a downward dog, and while this is true, yoga is so much more. Yoga is compassion, honesty, non-violence, discipline, self-study, and surrender to nature or God.
A yoga-inspired lifestyle can be inclusive and encompassing of your current hobbies, work, and other activities. A little yoga is better than no yoga at all, so take small steps, have fun, and remember why you feel called to the practice from time to time.
By Ariana Brandao
January 20, 2022