How to make your yoga practice sustainable

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The most difficult part of any journey is starting it. Whether we wish to learn a new craft, or work towards getting fitter, it’s always the most tedious of tasks to motivate ourselves to just go for it. After all, why would we want to wake up at five in the morning for a jog when we could just stay bundled up in bed for a few more hours of sleep? What’s in it for us?

For starters, it makes us productive. And if productivity isn’t attractive enough, working on towards a goal gives us a sense of fullfillment. Whether or not you achieve said goal, just knowing you’re doing your best to attain it is enough to keep your happy hormones pumping.

The same is true in establishing a yoga practice. Being a relatively new craze in my hometown, the people I often invite to join my yoga classes in General Santos City, Philippines almost always ask me the same question: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? I could go on and on about all of the published research on how yoga is beneficial to our holistic health. But paper is just paper. You will never appreciate just how good yoga feels until you have felt it yourself.

The only way to get yourself into something like yoga is to just get your ass up and DO IT. It takes a little push but once you get your groove on, it’s hard to shake it off.

I’ve compiled a list of ways on how to help yourself establish and sustain your practice. Yoga or not, these tips can really give you that extra push you need to achieve your goals.

1. Make it part of your schedule

To say make it a priority would be downright preposterous for some. Because let’s face it, we have other areas in our life that need tending to, like work and family. But if you know well enough to set a designated timeslot for your yoga practice and discipline yourself to follow it, then chances are you’ll be showing up to your mat more often than if you just go “whenever you feel like going.”

The only way you’ll ever show up to yoga if you don’t have time…is to make time! 🙂

2. Set REALISTIC expectations

So you finally muster up the motivation to show up to your mat. And then what? You turn to INSTAGRAM to find your #YogaInspiration. There may be a danger to this. Instagram-famous pseudo-celebs have been practicing for years! Even decades! To try and achieve in a few hours what these people have been practicing for practically their entire lifetime would be nothing short of silly, really. Don’t let it dishearten you. Instead, make these photos and videos your motivation to keep coming back to your mat.

Oh so you’ve been doing yoga for a month and you still couldn’t rock a headstand? I have news for you! There is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED for you to pressure yourself.

These things take time. Honestly, I still even find it extremely difficult to sit still and cross-legged for two minutes. But then again, I have only been practicing that daily for three short years. No pressure. I’ll get there when my body is ready. And you will, too. Believe you can and you’re halfway there, as they say.

3. Show up even on bad days

If you only come to practice on the days when you feel good, then you’ll be missing a lot! Bad days are a part of life. Not only is it inevitable, but it’s also necessary for personal growth. Unless you are ill and need bed rest, there’s really no reason for you to skip yoga practice.

4. Bring a friend or two

Encourage a friend to join you. Even if a yoga class isn’t really the best place to chat or hangout with them, having a friend by your side gives that extra push. You’ll have someone to talk to about the experience. You’ll have a cheerleader to give you encouragement. And you’ll have someone to nag you when you feel lazy.

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5. Track your progress

It could be as simple as consciously holding your spine straight up to avoid slouching. Small victories are still victories. And if you want something to look back on, carefully track these tiny victories. You might not be able to come up into a headstand right away, but you can start with nailing your dolphin pose, which you can work on by mastering your downward dog.

Advanced yoga poses can only be achieved by working on easy ones first and then gradually building your strength and flexibility as you go along. It’s progression that keeps you hooked and coming back. But you should keep in mind that it’s being content with what your body is capable of doing that gives you a meaningful practice.

6. Offer a moment of silence to yourself daily

If you are able to handle your thoughts in moments of silence without wanting to get up and run, then that’s truly the moment you’ll know your yoga is working on your favor. Yoga is traditionally learned to stop the fluctuations of the mind. Now this doesn’t mean you stop thinking. We are more inclined to interpret it as being lucid and rational, regardless of the emotions brought about by our thoughts. It’s giving meaningful responses to various circumstances instead of impulsive reactions.
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