How To Fit Yoga Into A Busy Schedule
As much as I love the Instagram yoga community, if insta yogi's are your primary frame of reference, it can seem like the only way to do yoga 'properly' is to quit your job, move to the beach, and get sponsored by a leggings brand.
The reality for most of us outside the Instagram bubble is that we have to combine yoga will a zillion other things in our lives.
And most of the time, those things - work, kids, spouses, you name it- have to take priority over our practice.
I am a 'normal' person. I am not a full time yogi or a former gymnast getting back in form. I never did sports growing up, forget about strength or flexibility work.
I am 31 years old. I have a job (a big one which I really enjoy, most of the time!) and I work around 70hrs a week. I am the breadwinner. I have a husband who I adore and I need to create space and time for our relationship. He has his owns dreams and ambitions and success that I need to support as he does mine. And we have a house and two cats to look after to boot.
So how do you fit yoga into an already busy life? These are my 7 tips...
1. Have your mat laid out where you can see it
My mat lives on my kitchen floor. I used to roll it up after every practice but over time I've realised that even the thought of having to roll it out will sometimes stop me getting on it. So it is laid out 99% of the time.
This means I can see it and I can step onto it any time I choose.
When the kettle is boiling for one downward dog.
When I'm in a waiting for the Sainsbury's delivery to arrive.
When I have a hour to kill on a Sunday morning before going to meet friends for lunch.
One downward dog is enough. 10 minutes is enough. Sometimes 10 minutes will become 100, but only if you actually step on your mat in the first place. So keep it where you can see it.
2. Really start believing that 10 minutes is enough
I talk a lot about this over on my Instagram, but me telling you and you believing it are very different things. And I know this because I didn't believe it for the longest time. But it's absolutely true.
You will feel the difference from doing that extra downdog, or those 3 sun saluations, or sitting in pigeon pose for 3min on each side.
Would it be 'better' if you did an hour? Better for who?! I am not going to feel better about anything if I miss a deadline at work or am late for a friends birthday party because I HAD to do a full hour. Do what you can when you can.
3. Don't beat yourself up if life just gets in the way
Sometimes your schedule is actually too full. Sometimes you are sick. Sometimes you get downstairs in the morning and discover the cat has vomited all over your mat and the kitchen floor and you have to spend your practice time cleaning that up, and worrying about the poor creature, rather than practicing.
Those are the days when your yoga practice isn't about the physical asana, instead it's about whether you can take the lessons you've learned on your mat off with you to the outside world.
Can you keep your breath? Can you observe and not react? Can you let go of the outcome? Can you be kind to yourself?
4. Create a support & accountability framework
Instagram is so so great for this. Join a challenge, or tell your 180 followers (that's how many I had when I took my account public in Oct'15) that you are going to post a 1 min flow every day for a week.
Otherwise, yoga with friends is amazing. Yoga dates are now a staple of how I spend time with some of my closest friends. Mainly because it's a lot healthier than meeting for a drink, and it's much harder to bail on a friend than a random class where no one will miss you.
The bottom line is that the first few months of cultivating a yoga practice are really hard for most people. You don't know what you are doing, your body is struggling to do the most basic of poses, and the progress can feel achingly slow.
By being prepared for that and having this framework around you, you are giving yourself extra support for when the going gets tough.
5. Find a teacher who you love to learn from
It's totally transformative to work with a teacher who inspires you and who gets your body and your challenges and who can help you work on them over time.
Keep trying different classes and different teachers until you find 'the one'. Because once you do, it will keep you going back and back and back.
And what you learn in those classes will help you develop a self-practice, and then as per #1 in this list, 10 minutes becomes 100...
6. Work out when your body responds best to practicing
I have only become a morning practice person this year. 2 years after I started yoga. Before January ish, neither my mind or my body could hack rolling out of bed and onto a mat. So I went to lunchtime classes when I could, or did 10-20 minutes while dinner was cooking once I got back from work in the evenings.
Yoga is practice not torture. Do what feels good, when it feels good. Sure, you challenge yourself in the moment, but the whole thing should be a positive experience. Then it's much easier to keep doing it again and again.
7. Vary your practice
Some days it will be super dynamic and sweaty. Other days it will be quiet and still and maybe more child's poses than anything else.
Many of us have come to see yoga purely as exercise, so the concept of doing a practice without feeling the burn or sweating buckets can feel like you haven't got anything out of it.
But exercise rarely keeps us coming back time and time again. You want to be here for the practice itself. Not for the weight loss, or the muscle gain, or the peak pose.
All that stuff is great, don't get me wrong, but it won't keep you coming back day after day, year after year. So listen to what your body and mind are asking for, and give it. Then stepping on to your mat will be the easiest thing you do all day.