Hey there Yoga Habit Challengers! Here’s a helpful post from our very own beloved yogini and teacher, Daisy. LOTS and lots of good stuff in here, including many, many online resources that you can use for yoga at home, on the go, in your office and while traveling. Enjoy!
A Few Thoughts on Creating a Yoga Habit
by, Daisy Whittemore
There are many ways to create a new habit, and a lot of theories and opinions about the best way to do so. Some say it takes 30 days to firmly instill something new, others say 40, some say it is all about setting an intention, and others talk about the importance of community, of discipline and structure, and the list goes on and on
Bottom line: There is no one size fits all in creating a new habit, whether it’s yoga or healthier eating or better time management.
The steps to creating a YOUR yoga habit begin with recognizing your beautiful individuality, and trying to create a plan and a practice that honors who you are and what you need. What does that mean? There is no magical solution…but there are a few things to consider in building your own yoga habit.
It is definitely worth spending a little time reflecting, considering how you are doing, and allowing a healthy, regular dose of introspection. What do you really need in your life at this time? Movement? Calm? Breath? Meditation? Do you need a teacher to guide you every day? Or do you need to create space and solid quiet time to practice on your own? Or do you have no idea? Be inquisitive and curious about yourself. And see if that helps guide you to a yoga habit created especially for you.
Be practical and honest about your time and availability to practice. Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating some big elaborate plan that doesn’t actually match your schedule and life, eg, don’t commit to a 90 minutes of #yogaseverydamnday unless that is easy and smart to create in your life. Be flexible in your planning and your efforts. If you end up getting more yoga than you planned, great. Then you can feel great about yourself instead of pissed that you missed a practice.
Eight Limbs of Yoga
Recognize the full breadth of yoga. It isn’t all asana (yoga postures). Your yoga habit doesn’t have to be the same thing every single day, same duration, same level of effort, same yoga. Consider exploring some of the other limbs of yoga, such as pranayama (breath work), meditation, chanting (eg, Krishna Das or Snatam Kaur), or even new poses. You may already know that what works in the studio doesn’t work as well at home. Adapt to make a great practice for yourself at home too. For example, you may love a very short asana practice followed by meditation when you get home from work; or a guided meditation (eg, Tara Brach, Sally Kempton, or Sharon Salzberg ) or Yoga Nidra before bedtime; or you may wake up and do a few sun salutations before you shower; or you may get a lot out of a weekend home practice with your partner using an online class. Allow yourself to play around with the many options, all of the limbs of yoga, and find ways to fit yoga organically into your life.
These days, there are a gazillion yoga resources online, particularly for asana, from snippets on Instagram to free classes on YouTube to monthly subscriptions or classes around particular shapes or expressions, such as the Cody App, YogaGlo, Ekhart Yoga, and Yoga International. Some of these subscription sites also have free trials.
AND, although not as polished or extensive as some of those sites, I also have a YogaNag Vimeo account where I periodically post videos of things I am working on, sequences I like, or muscle release techniques. I just posted a fairly beginner, chaturanga-free Simple Flow Class that is about 45 minutes in honor of all you extendYoga 30 day challenge yogis. Also on my Vimeo page is a short 15 minute Flow for a Friend, a few of my takes on a moon salutation (Version 1 and Version 2), as well as handful of other approaches to handstands, etc. These may be helpful to explore on your own.
Of course, I am not the only yoga teacher not of national status to have classes online. Your favorite teacher may have something too, or have ideas for what her favorite online classes are. Explore. Ask around. It is worth investigating the vast world of online yoga to inspire your own home practice.
Embrace yoga community, connection to other yogis, or as we call it in the yoga world, kula. This extendYoga challenge is perfect. Connect with others in the challenge, and with your teachers. Rely on your community to help support your yoga habit. Consider other places in your life you can cultivate your yoga habit support network.
One Pose at a Time
If you feel stuck or lost on a particular day and don’t know what to do, roll out your mat and sit on it. See what comes. Consider one pose at a time. Try a down dog, or another pose you love, and you may be surprised by what happens. Your body may want to take you on a little adventure. I wrote a blog for elephant journal years ago – Do One Pose – Today — about starting with one pose and seeing where it takes you. My thinking then was a yoga pose is a bit like a potato chip and it’s hard to do just one. I still think it works. Try it.
Practice love and kindness for yourself in your yoga. Relentlessly. Make your yoga habit an act of self-care and self-love. This may mean you need to cut yourself a break and not do so many sun salutations, or it may mean you need to give yourself a little push to try harder. The way to know, of course, takes you back to the top of the list: self-reflection. To know how to take good care of yourself, you need to figure out what you need. Let your yoga help you take better care of yourself. Love on yourself with your practice. You totally deserve it.