Up until a few months ago, I practiced yoga “almost every day.” I’d go through stretches of consistent daily practice, followed by a couple of misses (and in earlier years, a couple of months of misses), and I was pretty darn content with this. In 2015, I gave up the idea that I had to practice for at least an hour, and that freedom helped me to get more consistent with my practice (and my practices naturally got longer). But not quite perfect.
At the end of last year, I did my 500 hour yoga teacher training. I prepared for it by practicing yoga every day, no misses, for the six weeks leading up to it. No practice was shorter than 45 minutes, and many were two hours. And of course, while I was there I practiced yoga every day for those seven weeks. And now that I’ve returned, I still haven’t missed a day, despite the holidays and additional travel.
I’ve practiced yoga on-and-off since since about 2002, and “almost every day” since I became a yoga teacher in 2007. Still, a true daily practice has been life-changing.
You realize you DO have time.
I’ve always talked a lot about priorities when it comes to fitness and yoga. I’ve been wildly busy at various times in my life, as I’m sure you are or have been, and I still found time for the gym—because it was and always has been a priority. Yoga was mostly the same, but still, I would skip it on those extra-busy days, or the get-up-really-early days, or the I’m-teaching-three-classes-today days.
Deciding that I would not miss a day meant getting up earlier than was comfortable on occasion, but you know what? You live. You’re groggy for a second, then you get on with it.
The trick is in getting up immediately. I turn off the alarm, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, take a couple of sips of water, put on my yoga clothes (which I set out the night before), and go to the mat (which is already rolled out). It takes about two minutes for me to get from bed to mat.
You realize how silly your excuses are.
Too tired? It passes in a couple of minutes if you don’t wallow in it. Don’t feel like it? Yes, I’m a bit stiff in the morning, too, but you loosen up if you get moving. Too cold? Get a space heater. Through the experience of moving past these handy excuses, you realize how you’ve let something trivial hold you back.
You trust yourself.
Following through with promises to yourself is one of the most powerful things you can do to build your own self-confidence and mental strength. Every day, I’m relieved knowing that my yoga practice will happen, rather than wondering if the day will get away from me before I get to the mat.
You feel better.
I used to avoid yoga in the morning because I felt so tight, and I got lightheaded from moving on an empty stomach. Now, with the practice of practicing first thing, my body is used to that. I’m much more open at 6:00am than I ever used to be, and I have no problem doing long, challenging practices without eating.
The best part of a daily practice is in how I feel. I can tell you about it, but I think you have to experience it for yourself. Yoga sets the tone for my day. I feel good about myself knowing I’ve done my yoga and don’t have to try to squeeze it in later. My mind is clear. My body feels better. I’m calm and ready for whatever the day brings–every day.
Do you practice every day? Would you be willing to commit to it this year? Let us know below!
(Photo submitted by Bad Yogi community member Alexa Dominique)