I get it. When you’re busy with work, home, husband, kids, it’s hard to find time for yoga. It’s also easy to let those demands keep you from prioritizing yourself and doing what we will make you feel so good.
And let’s face it. Sometimes laziness can just get the better of all of us.
You may have the best intentions, but how many times do you spend your freetime scrolling through facebook or watching TV, basically too exhausted to have the mental capacity to do anything else.
I used to say it all the time:
“I don’t have time to do yoga. If I didn’t have…you name it…a full-time job, to cook dinner, to clean the house… then I would be able to do yoga.”
But then I realized, I was just giving myself excuses not to make time for yoga.
At that point, I decided I would practice yoga 4 to 5 times a week.
Here’s 6 steps I discovered along the way, that can help you make time for yoga too.
1. Choose your time…and days
First of all, you need to decide what time of day works best for you to practice. For me, it’s the morning. I know that if I can wake up early, before anybody else is up and before any other responsibilities stand in my way, I am more likely to practice and enjoy it.
But for you it might be different. Maybe for you it’s better to practice mid-morning after the kids have gone to school, or after work for a mid-afternoon boost. Maybe it’s in the evening or before bed after the days to-dos are done.
The important thing is that you find what works best for you, where you can take some space just for yourself.
Also choose your days. What days will you practice. This is where it is important to choose break days. Days you allow yourself simply to rest, with no pressure to do anything….
Well at least not practice yoga.
2. Say it to stick to it
This is probably the most important step!
Once you decide what time and days are best for you to practice, you have to say it. Simply saying it outloud to someone you know, such as a spouse or friend, will make it much more likely that you will actually stick to it.
Moreover, this person will be there to support you.
Second, set boundaries. Defend this time with your life. When you first start practicing, things will definitely come up to try to take you off course.
Maybe the people around you will try to occupy you during that time. They won’t be used to you being busy during that time and will try to get your attention. Or a friend will call the next day and want to go for coffee at exactly that time.
In these cases, you can simply keep reminding them that you need this time just for you. It may be hard at first because your inner caregiver will want to respond to their needs or some inner guilt may come up. But just remember, that the better you feel, the better you can give to those around you.
Trust me, once people know that you are serious about this time for yourself, they will stop interrupting you.
The key is to stick with it.
3. Prepare yourself
Depending on the time of day you’ve chosen, preparing yourself could look different. For me practicing in the morning, it means going to bed early, so that I can wake up early. It means taking a shower the night before, so that I have more time in the morning. It means having an easy to prepare breakfast ready and salad ingredients ready to take to the office for lunch.
With a lot of demands in life, you have to carve out that space and time just for you. But you won’t be successful at doing this, unless you enlist those around you for support.
Make sure that whatever you were doing during that time is rescheduled to a different time or that someone else is covering those things. Enlist your husband to take care of the kids, vacuum the floor at a different time, or save TV for after you’re done.
If you’re a single parent, you may not have someone there to take care of the kids. So enlist your kids for support. Explain to them how much you need this time to yourself. Arrange a special activity for them that they only get to do while you are practicing yoga, so they will occupy themselves and look forward to this time each day.
Whatever you need to do, make sure people around you know about your commitment and are willing to do what it takes to give you the time to honor your commitment.
How many of you have made a commitment to something in your head, not told anyone, and then got mad at your spouse for not giving you the time for it? Or is it just me?
This time, make sure the people in your life know about your commitment and are supportive of your well-being, knowing that if you feel better, everything and everyone around you will start to feel better, including them.
4. Mental motivation
But this preparation isn’t always easy to do.
There are hidden mental barriers, that can keep us from doing what we really want.
For example, it is not easy for me to wake up in the morning. I’m actually not a morning person. I’m one of those people who is addicted to hitting my snooze button over and over in the morning. When the alarm goes off, my thoughts immediately drift to how warm and comfy my bed feels and how good 10 more minutes of sleep would feel.
So what’s my secret to actually waking up now at 6 am?
I use my habitual thought process to my own advantage. Instead of allowing myself to think of how good more sleep feels, I direct my mind to thinking about how good I feel after practicing yoga. I remember how much energy I feel after practicing yoga and how light and free my body feels. I think about how good I feel walking into the office after practicing yoga, rather than arriving to the office with aches and pains already in my shoulders and back.
I start this thought process from the time I go to bed. I used to go to bed thinking, “Oh crap, I have to wake up in the morning and go to work.” Guess what the first thought in my mind was when I woke up? “Oh, crap, I have to wake up and go to work.”
So I practice a lesson from Louise Hay. Before going to bed, I focus on affirmative thoughts. I say to myself as I’m going to bed, “I wake up easily with energy in the morning. I enjoy waking up to practice yoga.”
This sets me up to be much more successful in actually following through with my yoga practice with a positive mindset, because it’s not always easy to get on the mat.
How does this relate to you?
Start noticing when you resist getting on your mat. What are your thoughts? Once you notice these thoughts, you can understand how to transform these thoughts into powerful motivators.
Also, set yourself up with a reward for practicing yoga.
Recently a friend showed me a video about creating habits. In the study, people who were trying to make running a habit, ate a piece of chocolate after running. It may sound counterintuitive to each chocolate after running. But that piece of chocolate was a small, positive reward the person received after running, which trained the mind to look forward to the reward and thus, create a habit of running.
You could try this same reward. Eat a small piece of chocolate or anything else you enjoy after you practice. Or the reward can be mental. I always take a moment after I practice to smile and thank myself for practicing. This moment of positivity acts like a reward to my brain, which motivates me to get on my mat. Also, remembering how good you feel after practicing yoga can be your motivator to get on the mat.
5. Decide what to practice beforehand
I don’t know if it is the same for you, but the question of “what am I going to practice?” can often keep me from getting on my mat at all.
Deciding what to practice is different for everyone, but here’s a few ways that have motivated me to get on my mat.
Online yoga videos. Either sign up for a monthly membership site or buy some specific yoga bundle courses to guide you in your practice. Even better, choose the video you will practice the next day beforehand, so you don’t spend your precious yoga time choosing a video.
Create a schedule of what you will practice each day, so that you know what you will practice each day. You could practice different types of poses to focus on each day, for example standing poses, backbends, hip openers, inversions, balancing poses, etc. Or you can decide to practice a different type of yoga each day. I usually practice a standard hatha yoga sequence every other day and in between I practice kundalini once a week and yin once a week.
Listen to your body and do what you feel. This can be the hardest, because it means not having a plan when you go to your mat. But it can also be the most rewarding. This is probably not the best for a beginner, but over time with practice, you will be able to feel where you have aches and pains in your body. And choose to link together the poses that will release these aches and pains from your body.
If you’ve been doing yoga for a long time and are familiar with poses and sequences try this out. Maybe not everyday, because you can sometimes start to feel lost with what to practice and lose motivation (exactly what we don’t want to do), but once a week will teach you how to become more attuned with your body, its needs and how it wants to move. It will build your capacity to listen within yourself and follow your intuition.
6. Be kind to yourself
Actually, this is THE most important step!
Be kind to yourself.
Yoga is about getting in touch with your body. Learning to love your body and treat it well. It is about uniting body, mind and soul.
It’s a bit hard to unite your body, mind and soul, when you are trying to do something that makes your body feel good, but you are mentally beating yourself up.
That means, if you miss a day. Don’t beat yourself up.
If you let yourself get carried into your negative thoughts about how you should have practiced yoga, but didn’t, that can easily lead to a downward spiral of negativity and put a negative atmosphere around our practice. Meaning, we’ve lost that reward of how good we feel from practicing.
Instead, forgive yourself. Sometimes, you just need extra sleep in the morning, or need that nap in the afternoon, or need a night of just vegging on the couch. Remember, listening to your body and its needs is yoga, even it doesn’t mean practicing poses.
Also as women we are cyclical beings. Our menstrual cycles intricately connect us with the cycles of the moon and the cycle of seasons. We simply can’t expect ourselves to be the same everyday. Our practice must shift with how our emotions and bodies feel each day.
Listen to yourself. If you need a slower practice or a break that day, do what you need, without feeling guilty.
My final piece of advice
Take these steps slowly.
This is a comprehensive guide about fitting yoga into your busy day. It’s about building commitment and stability, not an easy fix. It’s also about integrating yoga into your daily life. Choosing what’s best for you, which may shift over time.
Don’t expect yourself to decide one day you will start practicing yoga and then master all these steps. Allow yourself time to go through the steps. To see where resistance comes up along the way and go back to the steps again.
Now tell me in the comments below…
What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to committing to your yoga practice?
Do you already fit a consistent yoga practice into your busy life? How did you do it? What works best for you?
If you try out these steps, tell me. I’d love to hear if they work for you and offer you support where you get stuck.