The word practice so often follows the word yoga because yoga needs just that: practice. Without diligence and perseverance, you can’t expect to advance on the yogic path. This is why a daily practice is so encouraged—in fact, yoga is meant to be a completely life-encompassing practice. Every aspect of your life, everything that you do, should support your sadhana (spiritual practice).
Daily yoga strengthens your will power, ever-important on the yogic path. It develops focus, concentration, and strength of mind. It connects you deeply to your body, mind, and spirit, leading you to a more sattvic (pure) existence. It encourages you to find gratitude for every breath, challenge, and blessing set before you. It leads to the desire for a wholesome lifestyle that encourages its continuity.
Nonetheless, sometimes you might find it so hard to pull yourself out of bed and onto your yoga mat. Maybe you binge on yoga, being serious about your practice for a week, and ignoring it for the next three. Or perhaps you’ve come to doubt that there’s any spiritual point to yoga; that self-realization is bullsh*t, and yoga is only good for stretching.
In Sutra 1.30, Patanjali warns us that the obstacles to a yogi’s progress are “disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, erroneous views, lack of perseverance, and backsliding.” In order to avoid or overcome these impediments, commitment to a daily practice is your most valuable tool.
If you haven’t yet established a daily practice, or if you’re struggling to maintain it, try these five tips.
1. Commit to a few minutes a day.
It’s better to practice for five minutes each day than one hour once a week. You might not always have time for a long practice, and frankly you might not always feel like it. Committing to a few minutes each day takes the pressure off your yoga practice. Gradually increase the time you set aside for yoga, and still allow for five-minute practices when that’s all the time you can afford.
2. Affirm that your daily practice need not be a workout.
A daily asana practice is highly physically beneficial, but it need not be a workout. In fact, too much of a super sweaty, heart-pumping practice can deplete your body and energy. Don’t feel like every day needs to be vigorous. Be comfortable with taking things slow, holding poses, and resting when needed.
3. Remember that yoga is more than just asana.
Yoga has three main components: asana, pranayama, and meditation. But the last two are often ignored. Your daily yoga practice might not always include asana. It might be 5 minutes of pranayama, or 20 minutes of meditation.
4. Know when your yoga practice should only be meditation.
There are a few occasions to skip asana: when you’re sick, when you have a fever, and when you’re menstruating. If you’re sick or have a fever, just rest. If you’re menstruating, spend time in meditation. And in general, heed to the ebbs and flows of your energy, honoring that some days’ asana practice might mean 30 minutes in Savasana, and that’s fine.
5. Observe how you feel after your practice.
No matter how difficult it was to get onto that mat, take note of how you feel once you’re done. Better, right? This is a great motivator for getting started each day—there’s a guarantee that you’ll feel uplifted afterward.
The more you practice yoga, the more you’ll want to practice. Starting with just a few minutes each day can ignite a practice that eventually encompasses every moment of every day.