Whether you are a yoga teacher, a yoga student, or both, you will go through periods when it is difficult to get to your mat. You know you will feel better, look better, respond better, but something keeps getting in the way--- life. You’re sore, busy, stressed, traveling, you’ve gained weight, work is crazy, the kids’ need a chauffeur. If you’re honest with yourself, you know there will never be a time when life stands still and creates a big open space for you to do your yoga practice. Instead, it becomes necessary to color outside the lines and try some different tactics to get back to your mat.
I’ve seen many students let their practice slip to the bottom of an awe inspiring “to-do” list. I’ve also been through these cycles. I’ve beaten myself up, suffered through the guilt, and finally figured out a few motivators that can help when we‘ve been absent from our practice.
1. Put your mat on the kitchen floor beneath your coffee pot. Do as many Sun Salutations as it takes for your coffee to finish brewing. This feels fabulous. There is no better way to supercharge your morning.
2. Put your mat next to your bed and promise not to step over it without doing your three favorite poses. The three asanas may well turn into 20 minutes or more but, if not, no problem. You kept your promise and you have every right to feel proud of yourself.
3. Squeeze your practice into different places in your day. No one said you had to get to the mat for a full 90 minutes at a time. And you definitely don’t have to be in a studio to have a beneficial practice. If you ever see a tall blonde woman doing a standing variation of Eka Pada Rajakapotanasna in the airport terminal, wave to her, it’s probably me. Try a few Warrior IIIs in the supermarket (the shopping cart is a great prop for getting extra reach and length). Agnistambasana works well in your office chair. Uttanasana in the parking lot is a favorite while you’re waiting to pick up the kids. There are numerous advantages to pranayama while you are in a status meeting. The bottom line is, if you are standing or sitting still you can be doing an asana.
4. Purchase a package of private lessons. Having a teacher’s undivided attention on your alignment can catapult your practice forward and give you a lot of confidence to get back into a public class. Of course it doesn’t hurt that, once you make the financial investment, you will follow through.
5. Find a yoga partner. We will do for others, what we won’t do for ourselves. If you make a commitment to show up for someone else, you will keep it. It doesn’t matter if your yoga partner is your child, your dog, your teacher, or someone you met at the studio. You know the practice will help them and they will be motivated to be on the mat if you are there too.
6. Announce your intention – out loud and large-scale. Put it out on Facebook, twitter, or post a note on the office water cooler. Tell as many people as you can that you are going to yoga classes three times a week. You will follow through rather than have to explain to the next well intentioned inquirer that you coped out.
7. Redefine what a yoga practice is. Don’t settle for your practice just being physical. Yoga has more to do with learning about yourself and your growth. Learning where you need to heal and where your work is. If you are practicing compassion to yourself and others; courageously looking at what obstacles and fears you are holding on to; you are engaged in very intense yoga that serves you and everyone around you.