I recently came back to my regular yoga practice after taking some time off, and let me tell you it felt uh-maz-ing. I finished 30 classes in 31 days for the Your Yoga Challenge in April, and I am so glad that I pushed myself to keep up with it. It can be hard for me to find balance when I teach so much, sometimes the last thing that I want to do is more yoga after teaching all day. In my experience, being a good teacher means that you have to dedicate time for your own practice to stay inspired and avoid burnout. I love taking classes from other teachers and learning new things to incorporate into my own practice. Even simple things, like how to cue a specific transition from pose to pose can be done quite a few different ways, and every teacher has their own unique way of sharing yoga. I realized that I might not be the only one to have fallen out of my regular yoga routine, so I put together a few tips that helped me get back on my mat. I hope something resonates with you, and you fall in love with your yoga practice all over again!
Let go of expectations for yourself or for class
If you have taken a long hiatus from your yoga practice, chances are you will not be as flexible or limber as you once were. It takes time to rebuild your strength and stamina, so be patient with yourself and start slow. It’s not worth risking an injury to force your body into a shape that it is just not ready for, so ease back into it. Good things take time, so don’t expect your endurance and flexibility to come back overnight. Let go of any expectations of where you ‘should be’ and focus on enjoying how things are for you right now. Be present with your body and your breath and you will be rewarded. After all, it’s a practice, not a perfect.
Find a yoga buddy
Yoga friends are the best kind of friends to have. They are always ready to meet up at the studio, no matter who is teaching or what time it is. You can help motivate each other to make time for yoga, and they can even save you a spot if you are running late! Added bonus? Getting tea or coffee with your buddy before or after class and catching up.
Be a regular at the studio
For some people, practicing at home is easy. They have a good space to put their mat, they keep their focus on their practice, and they have a certain level of dedication to yoga. I am not one of those people. I struggle to find time in my busy schedule, I live in a tiny studio apartment that I share with my partner, and I am quickly distracted by wanting to change the music or getting a glass of water. For me, taking a group class is key to maintaining my own personal yoga practice. I enjoy the guidance from another teacher, I like hearing new music, and I love being in a quiet and relaxing space away from the distractions at my house. If you struggle to maintain your own home practice, find a favorite teacher or studio and return to that class at least 2-3 times a week. For me, just being in a studio environment helps my motivation immensely.
Set a daily reminder
If you are already good at finding focus during a home practice, consider setting a reminder in your phone for your daily yoga session. Practicing at the same time everyday sets up a routine that you can look forward to. Put on your favorite music and start moving, it’s amazing what just a few minutes of stretching can do! It doesn’t have to be complicated or long, even 10 minutes of child’s pose- down dog- easy twist- happy baby- savasana can really make or break your day.
Don’t take it so seriously
If you don’t know how to start or you feel self-conscious, try having a small glass of wine (or whatever your personal preference is) and then get on your mat. Don’t be afraid to get silly! Play around, roll on the floor, take some deep breaths and you will usually feel better than you did when you started. Obviously, you don’t need a glass of wine every time you practice, but sometimes it can help you relax a little and get out of your head and into your body. You might even surprise yourself once you start, you probably remember more yoga poses than you think.
It’s about the journey, not the destination
People say that yoga doesn’t take time, it gives time and I couldn’t agree more. Spend a few more moments with yourself learning about how your body likes to move and breathe. Our relationship with ourselves is one of the most intimate and rewarding relationships of our lives. Try to take a step back from your goal or idea of what your practice should look like and simply enjoy being on your mat!