If you have ever attended a yoga class or followed an online yoga practice you will probably recognise how much better you feel after your session. A regular yoga practice has many potential benefits for general wellbeing, including:
- decrease in stress levels
- relief of anxiety & depression
- improvement in flexibility, mobility and balance
- increase in muscle tone and strength
- improvement in breathing, energy and vitality
- improvement in heart health
- reduction of inflammation and chronic pain
- improvement in sleep quality
- regulating weight and balancing metabolism.
Many dedicated yoga practitioners know and experience this list of potential benefits and more, but they still find it challenging to incorporate a regular practice into their day.
Over the years of teaching and practising yoga daily myself, I have come up with a few tricks to encourage myself onto my mat even on the coldest and darkest of mornings.
- Try writing down what your deepest intention is for your practice and regularly revisit your reason for practice. I visit my mat daily because I love feeling vibrantly well and an early morning yoga session makes my whole day progress more happily and smoothly.
- Look at your schedule and be honest with yourself about the most likely time of day that you will stick to your intention to get on your mat. Diary in your practice and let family members know of your intention.
- Dedicate a space for your practice. I don’t have the luxury of a separate room for my yoga, I get up early in the morning and use our sitting room before anyone else in the family needs the space.
- To help me see this as a dedicated space, last thing at night I roll out my mat, place my buddha statue and some crystals in front of it and place a blanket and sheepskin rug on my mat. I fill a flask with boiling water with ginger and lemon and leave this on a tray with my favourite glass to drink in the morning. I fulfil this ritual with care and the intention of creating a sacred space for myself which I then look forward to visiting in the morning.
- Ask family members to help you and respect your privacy and need for quiet time to yourself.
- Make your practice space comfortable and as inviting as possible. I like to use a sheepskin rug in the mornings particularly in the winter and often start my practice with thick socks on. I love to light a log fire and have even put an electric blanket under my mat in the depths of winter. I see my morning practice as time just for myself, as a real treat.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to ‘achieve’ anything in your practice. As Vanda Scaravelli so rightly wrote, ultimately we practise yoga for the joy of it! Come to your mat with the intention of being curious as to where your body might lead you today. Simply listen to what your body feels like doing and start there.
- Where to start? I like to start my morning practice on my back, rolling on the ground, I then see if I can become present to the feel of my body on the earth, to the impression I make on the ground and the space around me. I breathe and quieten in to start a new inquiry as to how my body responds to my breath and to my movements. Each day is different, I respond to how I feel that day.
- Allow yourself the luxury of time. I often start my practise thinking I don’t know what to do or where to start and an hour later I wish I had more time. I would rather get up a little earlier to have the luxurious feeling of an un-rushed practice.
- Finally, if you miss a few days, don’t be hard on yourself, just re-read your motivation for practice and start again!
By starting a regular yoga practice you are giving yourself a gift. I believe that you will never regret the investment in yourself and your wellbeing – you may even find that “yoga takes you by the scruff of the neck and takes you on a journey whether you like it or not” Vanda Scaravelli.
If you need some extra motivation and ideas for your practice you can join an Orenda yoga class online or follow any of the free short practices on our youtube channel.