When I first started my yoga teacher training, one of my biggest challenges was consistency. Getting up every morning to practice before work was so hard. I was often tired and achy, my mind usually filled with anxiety and busy-ness from the moment I woke. I didn’t want to practice. But, because my teacher had told me to do it, I did it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no yoga angel getting up at 4am to serenely take my practice; sometimes my practice was short, and often it involved simply sitting in meditation for ten minutes; often I had a lie-in at the weekend, and sometimes didn’t practice at all.
At the time whatever I was doing, it never felt enough (see more on that here). I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do. I felt like I wasn’t a proper “proper yogi” and that there were others out there somehow better than me, that I’d be caught out one day, that students would expect, deserve more.
It took me a while to get over this. I have always been pretty good at pushing myself forward, but even I know when my body simply needs to rest. For me, yoga has been a therapeutic tool as well as a chance to move closer to a sense of connectivity, to feel as although I belong – that we all belong – to something much bigger than the lives we lead. Yoga has become a way of life, not just something regulated to an early morning stretch. It is the way that I catch myself thinking negative, long term thoughts and beliefs and noticing how they impact my body on a daily basis. It is treating everyone around me with kindness and compassion, starting with myself, on a daily basis. It is recognising that strength and flexibility sit alongside quiet sitting and breath awareness, and identifying which I need that day. It is sleeping when I need sleep, eating when I need to eat, and working when I need to work. All of the decisions need to be made every day, which is why doing something in the morning is a good idea, before the commitments and obligations of the day begin and we get distracted with our lives, but as to what that something is, I’ll leave that up to you. The point is: consistency. Whether you take 30minutes meditation, 2 hours of yoga asana practice, write a journal, or stare out of the window as you drink your tea, start to do so something every day.
Personally, I simply am not a same-routine-everyday person. When I look back to my travelling days, it was the spontaneity, the variety and the adventure that really kept my spirit alive, and it’s when I kid myself that there’s a formula to life – whether that’s getting a ‘good’ job, earning ‘good’ money or simply getting up at the same time to do the same routine everyday– that I find myself losing my sense of being in the moment, and so missing the opportunities and insights that surround me. In these moments, I feel like I am holding my breath, that I begin to stagnant, stiffen up, and lose my feeling of courage and joy to fear and anxiety. This is the opposite of yoga.
Doing the same thing everyday doesn’t make you better, more spiritual or more worthy. However you practice yoga – or more simply speaking, live your life – consistency matters. If you need to practice yoga everyday do it. If you need ten minutes to yourself every day to just have a cup of tea in peace, find that ten minutes. If you like to get a massage, get a massage. Start to make these things part of your routine, be consistent, show up to yourself, and be true.
For me, my journal and meditation are two regular parts of my routine. I find recently I enjoy practicing yoga in the late morning, which never used to be the case (probably because I was always at work at that time and I now have created more space to be able to choose what I do and when I do it). We need consistency and routine to keep us focused and on track, but we also need sensitivity and awareness to keep our practice fulfilling, and not another thing on the to-do list.
What can you do today to help you connect a little more deeply with what may bring you more peace? The more stillness, space and softening it brings you, the better. I love sharing these messages in my yoga classes and retreats; if you’d like to stay in touch with what I've got coming up this year, sign up to my newsletter.