5 top tips for getting yourself on the mat

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I have to confess that, for years, I struggled to get myself to do any yoga at home. I knew it would be good for me, and every now and then I would manage a flurry of practice for a few days, or a few weeks, then it would fizzle out. I suspect I’m not alone in this!

So I’m not going to give you a list of reasons why it’s a great idea to develop a self-practice, or any inspiring quotes about motivation – I think you probably know all of that already. Instead, I’m going to share my top 5 super-practical tips for getting yourself on the mat.

1. Trick yourself into it

This is my number one top tip – try committing to just 15 minutes of yoga each time you practice. It will help you get on the mat in the first place (the first challenge) because, well, who doesn’t have 15 minutes to spare? And once you’re there you will probably find you get into it and spend more time than that. I often aim for 15 minutes and do about 45 minutes instead, almost without realising the time has passed. It won’t always happen this way, especially if there is a reason why you can’t fit in more than 15 minutes, but it will happen often, I can almost guarantee it.

2. Create some space

Find some space in your home that is just large enough for your yoga practice – aim for a space that can just fit in two yoga mats pushed close together and that should be about enough. It doesn’t matter where it is as long as it is a space you can keep clear. Mine is a strip of floor in our spare room next to the sofa bed and the ironing board! My husband and I have agreed that strip of floor will be kept free from clutter and laundry at all times. This removes another obstacle in your path to developing a personal practice – the need to clear some space before you can begin. It means you can just roll out your mat and get started.

3. Plan ahead…or be spontaneous

Depending on your personality, one of these options will probably work better than the other, or you may want to try a combination of the two. Either plan your yoga practice in advance based on your schedule for the week, or commit to using your free time as and when it arises. I have found a mixture of both has worked well for me. For example, I generally plan to do a longer practice of about 45-60 minutes on a weekend day and any day when I work from home, plus I’ll squeeze in a few 15-minute practices as and when I have that available.

4. Develop a consistent sequence

It can be daunting to think of how to begin your practice at home. So I have found it really helpful to start each session in exactly the same way, and then after the first few poses or sequences I start to be a bit more creative. But when I was first starting to develop my self-practice I didn’t even move on to the creative part – that’s happened over time as I have become better at just getting on the mat. Depending on your personality this might get boring for you though, so if you think that might be the case you could choose two or three different options and just choose one of them each time you practice to keep it a bit more interesting.

5. Be realistic

If you’re just starting to develop a yoga practice at home, don’t give yourself a target of practicing every day if that’s not going to be realistic for you – it probably won’t be realistic for most people. If you set a target that is unrealistic you’re more likely to lose heart if you don’t achieve it. Be realistic – aim to practice two or three times a week and see how it goes. Be kind to yourself and don’t berate yourself if you miss a day – you haven’t failed if this happens, you’ve just missed a day – pick it up again the next day and take it from there.

I hope this helps you develop and maintain a regular practice of your own. If you have any other top tips, I’d love to hear about them too!

Photo credit: bradleypjohnson via Creative Commons

 

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