How Do I Make Time For A Yoga Practice? And Why Should I?
How Do I make Time for My Yoga Practice? And Why Should I?
It's almost a funny question: asking, "how do I take time to care for myself in my daily life?" But given how busy we are in our daily lives it's a question we encounter often. Our responsibilities include work, raising children, running a household and doing all the small things each of these require on a daily basis. Not to mention shopping, cooking and cleaning. So its no wonder that we seem to be focused on what "need to be done" sometimes leaving little time for things we want to do.
As a yoga teacher and studio owner I have found that explaining the benefits of a daily yoga practice to people helps them put exercise and self-care into perspective and then it naturally falls, without guilt, into a position of importance. Rushing from task to task on a daily basis keeps us in an "Action" only mode. We think we have to push and strive to make deadlines, oftentimes holding our breath as we try to get everything on our list done, breathing only at the end of the day when we hit that finish line--and there are still things on our list we have not done! By being action oriented only we can lose out on the ease with which things wcan line up for us when we feel centered with a sense of ease in our body and comfort in our breathing. All of us have had days when everything has lined up for us easily. Our plans unfolded in what seemed to be an effortless way. Without exception--those were times when we were calm, centered, and relaxed. Even when we are busy and happy in our activity--we can be centered, calm and relaxed. Instead of pushing we can be riding the energy that we have taken time to line up first. Things unfold more easily when we are aligned.
So how can yoga help us with our alignment and centeredness? Breathing is an important component. Our body functions best whenever a stable breath pattern. When we hold our breath, or our breath is choppy or ragged, it sends a panic message from our body to our mind. It tells our mind that we are in danger--often known as a fight or flight response. When we act out of this kind of panic we are motivated by fear and often react unconsciously. In contrast, when we are breathing deeply throughout our day and feel centered we will be more apt to arrange our day in a manageable schedule. We will move from task to task with more ease toward ourselves and others. And this is compounded further by the fact that when we act easily to people we interact with--they will often move heaven and earth to accommodate us. Have you ever spoken to a representative on the phone when you felt ornery or angry and have not gotten that credit to your account or the right service adjustment done quickly and efficiently? How about when you have made a call like that and you felt happy, calm and centered? Didn't it all unfold well? When interacting with our children--do you notice that just when when you felt frazzled and harried your children were often moody and difficult?
A daily physical practice of yoga will help you to release tension from your body. Exercise releases endorphins that helps flood a sense of well-being throughout the body. Muscles work, limbs stretch, we connect to our bodies and begin to feel great. We begin to develop tone in our arms and legs, we reconnect to our stomach muscles and relish feeling them working and stretching in our yoga class. Our metabolisms begin to speed up to easily process our intake of food and as a result we often find ourselves wanting to eat more healthfully. We become attracted to foods that will nourish us instead of simply comfort us. Oftentimes when we feel busy, overwhelmed, or overworked we look for a "treat". Its often a "treat" that we then need to work off--in terms of calories or money we spent shopping. Yoga is a treat that keeps on giving--in a salubrious and nourishing way. Your practice is a gift that will feed your body and your mind.
Okay,you say, so how can I make time for my yoga practice everyday? How do I fit it into an already full schedule? Where can I practice and how much do classes cost? You have a lot of options when it comes to your practice. You can practice at home to DVDs or online videos, which is the least expensive and time-consuming option. It will also require that you create a small sacred space for yourself in your house, office, or yard. You can research different studios in your area and choose one where you feel safe and challenged by a caring and knowledgeable yoga teacher or teachers. Or you may choose a combination of both of these options. If you choose to attend a studio, research different options and choose the one that feels the most welcoming with a knowledgeable instructor to guide you. If you want more privacy or flexibility, financially and in class times and frequencies, you can buy a yoga DVD or join an online yoga video site where you can access new classes everyday.
Remember, whatever you choose make sure it calls to you and is enjoyable. You are really busy and work late sometimes. You are often tempted to 'blow off' the gym or that walk when you get home at night because you may feel rushed to begin dinner or other obligations. Think about your day for a moment. When is there a lull in activity? When your spouse is at work or the children are at school? On your lunch break at the office or at home if you have a home business. Choose a time slot that seems like it could work and let's begin there. Don't overwhelm yourself and try to carve out 2 hours if you already feel pressured or you will quit quite soon--saying you have no time. Instead set aside 30 to 45 minutes to start, just 3 days a week. You can always add more time to your yoga practice, as it feels right to you.
Now, let's choose a spot in your house …. Try finding a space that is especially for your practice. Maybe it's a small room in your house, maybe it's a corner in your room that you clear, and keep clear, marking it off as your own safe space. Clear the floor and put down a yoga mats and a folded blanket and any other props you will want to use. You can make this space warm by setting up candles and incense and perhaps a small picture that holds a special significance for you. You may also want to have a tape deck, CD player or Ipod close by so you can incorporate some yoga music or other soft ambient music into your practice. Even the sound of waves crashing onto a shoreline is a refreshing and soothing sound for yoga and is not distracting.
During your yoga practice, turn off your home telephone, your cell phone and computer. If you suddenly get a clear idea during your practice and find this happens often, as it does for me as I get calmer and more connected with my body, keep a pad in your space to quickly jot down the idea so you can implement it later. Do not get up to use email or the phone during this time. Any calls can wait and you will be better equipped to handle any challenges or details in your life effortlessly after your practice is complete. If you have children that will be home while you practice, make sure they are safely occupied or are being watched responsibly so that you can completely dedicate yourself during this special time slot. Perhaps you can choose a time when your children and/or partner are out of the house if distractions are a possibility. Remember, this time you spend taking care of yourself will make you better equipped to interact compassionately with everyone in your life so Do Not feel guilty about taking time for yourself! Make calm preparations to clear your time and your mind and begin your practice. Enjoy and watch your body begin to blossom, your breath begin to expand and your life begin to unfold more easily and effortlessly!