Have you always wanted to cultivate your own yoga practice – but find yourself unsure of where to start? Make 2017 your year to incorporate yoga into your life. As yoga grows in popularity, the availability of yoga resources, studios, and gear is skyrocketing too. It’s simply a matter of finding the right fit for you. Admittedly, yoga can seem intimidating to a true beginner. This article is designed to empower you to take action steps towards finding what yoga means to you – no hand-standing or chanting necessary (unless you’re interested, of course!).
Yoga is deeply personal and discovering how you prefer to practice can instigate a life-long journey of self-study and discovery. The revelations and progress you make on your mat just might permeate every other area of your life – be forewarned! Here are seven approachable ways to add yoga to your life. Choose one or all seven to start; just make sure you find a small step that you can be consistent with when you’re first beginning.
Image Credit: @kraus7seven
1. Create a space in your home. Practicing yoga at home in the same spot every day (and even better, at the same time) will help cement the habit in your brain. Find a quiet corner where you can leave your yoga mat unfurled. If you have blocks, a strap, a yoga blanket, or a bolster (all props you might consider purchasing for your home practice), arrange them neatly nearby. Light a candle, diffuse essential oil, or burn incense. Hang an inspirational picture or quote on the wall nearby. Do whatever you need to design a spot that makes you feel good. Find an online resource for yoga videos to inspire your home practice – there are many high-quality websites, both free and paid, available just a Google search away. Try YouTube too!
2. Choose a local studio. Oftentimes yogis will practice either exclusively at home or exclusively at a studio. A combination of both can be ideal in many ways, however. Practicing at home offers an opportunity to deeply connect with yourself and discover the ways in which your body likes to move without outside influence. Practicing at a studio will help you learn new things from your instructors and provide beautiful group energy to stoke the fire of your yoga. To this end, try out studios in your area. Most studios offer a beginner’s special or Groupon-type deal, making it quite affordable to try an assortment of different options.
Image Credit: @camleeyoga
3. Select a personal goal. A specific goal can offer the motivation you need to return to your mat day after day. Whether your goal is physical (nailing splits pose or headstand, for example) or mental (decreasing anxiety or finding peace in the present moment), make sure it’s relevant to your needs and desires. Write it down and track your progress in a notebook or with progress pictures. You might even consider starting a yoga-specific Instagram account.
Image Credit: @katyasiberianvegan
4. Get accountable. Chances are, if you want to start yoga, someone in your life does too. Ask your partner, a family member, or a friend to be your yoga accountability buddy. Commit to practicing together at least once a month and checking in with each other regularly. Knowing that you’re meeting someone at a class – or that someone will be asking about your home practice – can give you the extra push you need to move past inertia and take action.
5. Plan ahead. Time for personal development doesn’t tend to just “appear”. It has to be made! Get in the habit of sitting down on Sunday night and planning out your yoga practice for the upcoming week. Commit to a few studio classes and inform anyone who might be affected by your absence (family members or colleagues, for example). Pencil in home practices during any open time slots you have, time slots that might otherwise get filled up with phone calls, TV, or puttering around. When you actually look at your week on paper you might find that you have more time than you think!
6. Ask questions. Yoga can seem full of clique-ish terminology to beginners. Vinyasa, chakras, mula bandha, Ganesh – what does it all mean? Don’t be afraid to ask questions and forget about looking stupid. Most yogis and yoga teachers will be more than happy to help you. They were beginners once too. If anyone ever makes you feel dumb or acts in an exclusive manner, leave that studio immediately. Those kind of bad vibes don’t belong anywhere near your yoga practice.
Image Credit: @sashapritchard
7. Commit to a daily practice of some kind. A key to making yoga a habit is practicing it daily. If your first thought is, “I don’t have time for that!” you might want to change your idea of what a practice is. A daily practice can be 10 minutes of sun salutations while your coffee is brewing. It can be 5 minutes of mediation before an important meeting. It can be relaxing yoga poses in bed before falling asleep after a long day. Yes, some days should include 60-90 minute classes, but not every day needs to. Get in the habit of doing some kind of yoga for a few minutes every single day and you’ll begin to notice a major change in your health and mindset in only a few short weeks.
Main Image Credit: @SmitBruins