For many of us, unless we find ourselves beneath the crush of an imminent deadline, actually getting started on a new endeavor AND staying committed can feel like a willful decision that requires sacrifice and mind games. Under these conditions, it’s easier just to put off those things we say are among the most important to us- like exercise and yoga.
As the saying goes, most of the time, “getting started is the hardest part”.
Experts have proven that developing a skill is nothing like cramming for an exam. Creative ability, like physical strength, is something that develops slowly, almost unconsciously over time, given the right effort, energy and motivation.
For most of us, the obstacle lies not in the ability to practice well, but in actually doing it consistently enough to really improve and see results.
With anything, if we set goals that are attainable and create parameters that will hold us accountable- we can change our patterns, making something into a automatic habit that is good for us verses one that is bad.
Yoga is a practice and our bodies are like our instruments. Without consistent, regular classes and time on the mat, it is hard to see how our bodies and minds are shifting and changing. So, I recommend taking on the challenge for 2-3 months and our upcoming Summer Strong Challenge* is a great way to kick-start your consistent practice!
FIVE STEPS TO A CONSISTENT PRACTICE
Start Small and Grow your Commitment
Success Begets Success. A common mistake in starting a new habit is to go all-in with excessive effort, wearing yourself out before you even get off the ground.
1 class a week can make a difference! So set your goals realistically based on what you know you can do over 3 months. Consider adding classes as each week goes by because the more time on the mat, the more your body and mind will become accustomed to the commitment and effort.
Commit in Writing: Find Your Reasons and Create a Plan
Yoga comes into our lives for many different reasons- look at why you are choosing to practice and set your intentions based on that. Maybe it is to get in shape, sleep better, be more flexible or to do a handstand.
The practice is very personal to each of us, so write it down so you know what you are working towards .
Set Weekly Goals with Rewards and Drawbacks
With challenges and drawbacks if you don’t stick to your weekly plan. Takeaways tend to work better in this format for me than rewards, so do what works best for your mindset.
Choose something that you really treasure and that is a pleasure to you- Friday night wine night, Sunday morning brunch or movie watching in bed. If you make all your weekly classes, you get to keep your pleasure, if you don’t something gets docked for each class you miss that week.
Again- keep it simple and reasonable- both in your goal setting for time on the mat and your rewards/drawbacks.
Enlist the Buddy System
Sometimes the best way to get into a new pattern is to do it with another person- you have someone to cheer you on and push you when you get lazy:) So sign up for a new class card together and set calendar meetings for all your classes.
If you treat your practice with the same seriousness and commitment as we do other things, like work, family commitments- we are more likely to show up.
Share your rewards/drawbacks with your buddy- being transparent means you can hold each other accountable.
The goal at this point is not volume time on the mat. The goal is to make the habit of practice automatic. So start by setting yourself up to succeed by giving yourself goals that are easy to meet.That’s It. Stop reading and commit.