Every yoga teacher or avid practitioner who is asked the question, “What does yoga mean to you?” will reply by saying that yoga is a lifestyle, so much more than just a physical workout. Why is that? What makes it so special that everyone wants to turn it into a habit?
Improving flexibility and mobility aside, yoga calms the mind and helps us improve our relationships by increasing our tolerance, allowing us to become more open and respectful of other people’s opinions and situations. It helps us connect with ourselves on a deeper level through our breath, too, focusing on the present moment, and by simply creating a self-care date with ourselves.
Once our practice starts to progress and we discover incredible ways our body starts to move, our mindset starts shifting as well. Many yogis like to say that through improving the flexibility of our body, we’re actually improving the flexibility of our mind.
Starting something from the very beginning can be scary, hard, nerve-wracking, and even daunting, but nothing can be achieved overnight. If we find something that makes us feel good, lowers our stress response, and helps us be more mindful and happy, spending time to make it work is absolutely worth it. Try these five simple ways to turn yoga into a habit.
Find a Studio/Teacher You Like
Finding good energy in the studio you decide to go to is a good first step into making yoga a habit. You’ll want to come back to a place that makes you feel good. Same works for finding a teacher you like—you’ll always come back to someone whose voice soothes you, transfers you to a relaxed state, and gets you to spend that hour focusing on yourself and your breath. Sometimes it takes a while to find a place you like. That’s ok, so don’t force yourself to go to a studio that gives you negative vibes.
Which brings me to the second tip.
Don’t Force Yourself. . .
. . . to go to anyplace you don’t feel like, to take classes from teachers who irritate you or you feel aren’t doing their job properly, to take a class that will be physically exhausting if you’re too tired to spend an hour on the mat, to pay for a yoga workshop just because your friends swear by the teacher, or to go to a studio your best friends rave about, but it’s totally not your jam.
Listen to yourself, to your body, to what YOU want. That way, you’ll be able to turn your practice into a habit. You’ll crave that feeling during and after class, without feeling like you “have to go” or “have to attend” a certain session.
Make It Your Time
We all lead such crazy busy lives that we almost have no time for ourselves. Making your yoga class your self-care time—time you carve out of your busy schedule to take care of yourself—will help quickly turn it into a habit. Over time, you’ll notice how much you crave that hour of peace and relaxation. We all need time to reset, recharge our batteries, calm our mind, and spend a little time with ourselves.
Practice at Home
This might be the hardest of all these tips because practicing at home can feel like a chore more than a want or a need. Forcing yourself to get on your mat every morning is never gonna get easier, so don’t start doing it until your body asks you to.
Go to your favorite studio and take all your favorite classes, and then one day, try practicing yoga at home. You might enjoy it on a whole new level as you get to control how long your flow gets, what music you’ll listen to, and whether you’ll do it in your bedroom or on your terrace bathed by the sun.
Take a Break
Turning something into a habit doesn’t mean you need to do it every single day. You might even get fed up with it and start feeling the pressure of “having to do something”—and that’s the complete opposite of what we’re trying to achieve here. Turning something into a habit makes sense only if it improves the quality of your life, not if it adds to your already stressful situation.
Taking breaks from whatever you enjoy doing is sometimes necessary, so honor that. Don’t be afraid of introducing it a bit later in the month or year. Life happens, and not every day is perfect or can be planned the way you want. Go with the flow, and take it as a sign it might be time to make a change.
Yoga is wonderful because it has the power to change lives for the better. Turning it into a habit is an amazing tool to have in your self-care kit, but doing that against your own instincts defeats the purpose. Take it slow, enjoy the process, and reap the benefits.