10 Tips for Starting and Maintaining a Daily Yoga Practice

I believe that, sometimes, the way something begins dictates the way it ends. I've noticed this especially about days. How often have you heard someone say, "My day went from bad to worse?"

This is just one of the millions of reasons I start my day with my morning practice (sadhana). Because when I start my day on my mat, consciously healing, connecting, moving, breathing, and evolving, I feel how that radiates into the whole rest of my day.

There are days when I don't manage it. They're rare, because when they happen I feel tighter, colder, more worried, less grounded. And the people I share my day with feel it, too.


1. Do it for the love of it. Don't do it if you feel like someone is making you. Try it for a while, maybe a week or two, and if you haven't fallen in love with it, back away for a while. Try again down the road. I bet once you're ready for it, you'll fall head over heels.

2. Do it for the people you care about. Every person you interact with during your day, but especially the people you care about the most, will benefit from you taking time to clear stresses, worries, anger, and tension from your body-mind, and tapping into the loving-kindness and peace of your spirit.

3. Make it about right now. Don't make your sadhana into a chore, or a lesson. Let your practice evolve to meet your changing needs. If you're feeling tired or sick, your practice becomes the time you gently, mindfully ease your tension, breathe energy into your body, and soften aches and pains. If you're high energy, let your practice be strong and powerful--maybe full of vinyasas and Kundalini squats--and definitely full of gratitude for your radiant inner strength.

4. Don't let anyone else tell you what you should do. Ashtanga devotees might say you need to take Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A). Kundalini devotees might say you need to do a specific kriya (posture set). Bikram fans might say you really need some heat. Buddhists might say you need to sit and meditate. I believe your sadhana is what you need it to be in that moment. I believe it can evolve into a combination of many spiritual practices--and even not-necessarily-spiritual-ones, like journalling. I believe if your intention is to heal and clear and tap into your spirit then what your inner teacher guides you to do is what you need. But don't let me tell you what you should do.

"What is sadhana? It’s a committed prayer. It is something which you want to do, have to do, and which is being done by you. … Sadhana is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody or to gain something. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best." ~ Yogi Bhajan

5. Be practical. If you've only got 10 minutes, you've only got 10 minutes. When yoga master Mark Whitwell is encouraging students to begin a daily practice, he recommends just 7 minutes a day.

"Do your practice actually and practically, but not obsessively." ~ Mark Whitwell

6. Try to do it at the same time every day. If you do something at the same time every day, your body-mind begins to prepare for it before you've even started. This makes it a heckuva lot easier to settle into it. It also means you'll probably start to crave it.

7. Sacred space. Lots of people recommend creating a space for your practice, where you do nothing but. This isn't practical for lots of us. I find that my mat, laid down in the same spot every day, has become a sacred space for me. I begin to feel the benefits of my practice as soon as I sit down on my mat.

8. Music makes sense. Sometimes I can zen into myself no problemo. Other times I need a little help. Playlists are huge for me at these times. They also help me move towards my intention. If I'm building or working with a lot of energy my power yoga flow music gets cranked up. If I'm grounding and calming or healing, my super sweet, soothing tunes help me on my way.

9. Turn off the phones. If you can, turn off your landline and cell phone ringer. It's a good way to help your mind know this time is for your practice, nothing else.

10. Get rid of guilt. Well, first we have to accept that we feel it. Because we're not encouraged to take care of ourselves. We're encouraged to take care of other people. Especially women. This is why everyone from healers and yoga teachers to pop stars and Oprah still repeat the mantra:

You can't take care of others unless you take care of yourself.

But we can't banish guilt. Because what we resist persists. It's there. Let's notice that. Let's accept it. Let's feed it some loving-kindness. And then let's see if the guilt gently fades away.

Good luck!


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