Sticking with It

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To really get the most out of yoga, a commitment is in order. Although occasional yoga is better than no yoga, life changes and dramatic benefits will come more quickly and easily if you practice yoga regularly, whether that means a few times a week or a few times a day. Commitment-phobic, are you? Don't be! This is a relationship with yourself, so even though you might discover some surprises (what relationship doesn't have a few of those?), this commitment is well worth the effort you put into it.

A Yoga Minute

Whatever questions or issues seem personally relevant or important to you should be the subject of your journal entries. Keeping written track of your practice in this way will not only encourage you to practice regularly, but will also serve as a valuable and interesting record for the more advanced yogi you will be in the future. Someday it may be fun and enlightening to see how far you've come and what path you took.

Still, even for the most well-intentioned, cultivating a new habit can be difficult at first. If you're having trouble sticking to your yoga schedule, try the following strategies. One of them may be just the inspiration you need.

> Let's make a deal. First yoga, then breakfast. No yoga, no food. Or first yoga, then a long, hot bubble bath. No yoga, no bath. Whatever deal you make with yourself, be firm. At first, breakfast, a bubble bath, or whatever your deal involves will seem like a reward, but before long, yoga will become its own reward and you won't need to make any more deals—unless they involve using your yoga practice as the reward! (If I clean the whole kitchen, then I get to practice yoga for 30 whole minutes!)

> It's a family affair. Get your partner or kids involved! When you don't feel like practicing, someone else in the family probably will, and that can be enough of a motivation. (Who could deny a preschooler begging to "play" yoga?) Conversely, when your partner or kids are feeling less than motivated, you may be the one to encourage them. (See Chapter 25, "Yoga for the Whole Family.")

> Associate yoga with another pleasurable activity, then always link them. To use a previous example, every time you get up early to do yoga, you also get to relax with a cup of tea and watch the sunrise. Or whenever you do yoga, your family knows they can't bother you for an entire 30 minutes, or however long you can convince them to do without you. Maybe you can even work up to a whole, glorious hour! Yoga will mean peace, relaxation—time for you, and you alone.

> Keep a yoga journal. Every day that you practice yoga, take a few moments in the morning or evening (or whenever you have time) to write down how long you practiced, what time of day it was, exactly what you did, and then, most important, how you feel about it. Did you make progress today? Did you feel like you experienced a setback? How do you feel now? Are you still carrying the feeling of your practice, or is it gone? How is your stress level? Don't feel you have to address all or even any of these questions—they are just suggestions.

> Put yoga on your to-do list. Put it right alongside all your other important daily duties, then check it off when you have finished. Subconsciously, you may not be giving yoga a high priority, and that's why it's so easy to forget or put off. Consciously placing yoga high on your list, equal to (if not higher than) such important tasks as getting the car fixed, turning in that report to your boss, or buying the groceries for your big dinner party, may be the motivation you need to accomplish your yoga practice every time it's scheduled.

Maybe another strategy will work better for you, but have a strategy! Commitments require a plan, but ideas without a plan rarely amount to anything. Take your yoga seriously, commit, exercise a little self-discipline, or simply allow yoga to be so fun and refreshing that you wouldn't possibly skip a workout! Soon you'll have no trouble making yoga a natural part of your life.

Stress

Relaxation

Stress

Relaxation

^ Heart rate increases.

^ Heart rate decreases.

^ Muscle tension increases. ^ Breathing rate increases. ^ Blood pressure increases.

^ Muscle tension decreases. ^ Breathing rate decreases. ^ Blood pressure decreases.

^ Blood-clotting time decreases.

^ Blood-clotting time increases.

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