I practice everyday.
Telling this to my students often invokes dramatic reactions of disbelief. “Like, every single day?" "How do you do it?" "I should practice more, but I don’t have the time or patience for that." "With the kids, my husband, the dog, and this crazy job, I can barely find time to come to this class!” The majority of my students interpret my daily practice to be a 90-minute vinyasa power flow. While there are some days when my body calls for such a practice, it isn’t on a daily basis. Such intensity isn’t necessary, nor is it always feasible. Yogis have lives like everyone else—there are kids to look after, dishes to be washed, bills to be paid, and dinners to be made. But the good news is, starting and maintaining a daily practice isn't nearly as difficult as one might think, and it requires just two things: desire and commitment.
A day-by-day commitment might sound time-consuming and overwhelming, but what if I told you that your daily practice doesn't have to take much time at all? That even five minutes each day could transform your relationship with yourself and your body. Would you commit to that?
Life can certainly get in the way of a long, vigorous asana session each day; however, if you can wake up and make coffee every morning, you too can start a daily yoga practice.
. “You have a daily practice even if you don’t do asana every day. Your life is your practice. Don’t downplay yourself.”
How? Well, it’s actually quite simple. The first and most important concept to recognize is that a daily practice does not have to be physical. This is a notion that took me years to discover. Very recently, my mother—also a yoga instructor and my lifelong inspiration—read a bio that I'd written for my developing website. She messaged me immediately after reading a line describing my “almost-daily practice.” Her words were sharp and resonating. “You have a daily practice even if you don’t do asana every day. Your life is your practice. Don’t downplay yourself.” Those words hit me hard. Even though I had heard plenty of times that yoga is more than the physical poses, it didn’t occur to me that this applied to my home practice as well.
The key to starting a daily practice is to first decide what your intentions for practice are and how you want to express them.
If you want to focus on your…
Start small and keep your expectations realistic. Daily asana doesn't have to be grueling! A few sun salutations are all you need to jump-start the connection between you and your body. Commit to completing 3 to 5 rounds of surya namaskar once a day. Chances are, you'll often find you want to practice longer.
From reducing stress to increasing your energy, daily focus on your breathing patterns can significantly change your life. Set aside a few minutes each day to delve into your breath-work and note the benefits that come with it. Your breath practice is similar to your physical one—different times of life call for different kinds of movement. Feeling stressed? Try a few rounds of nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) Need to activate your digestive system? Start the morning with agni sara. Don’t be afraid to change up your practice when your body asks for something new.
Try a mantra to tune in to find at-one-ment. This centering, nurturing practice will permeate all areas of your life. There are also mantra practices directed at effecting change in the physical universe while bringing you to a state of greater fulfillment. What do you want in life? What are you working toward? Love, abundance, prosperity, good health, and self-discovery are just a few of the beauties the universe has to offer. If you are on the path toward something big, summon a little help from the universe by asking. Find a mantra—whether in Sanskrit, English, Spanish, etc. The keys to success are repetition and invocation. Dedicate five minutes, preferably when you wake up or before you go to bed, to mantra repetition. Sit in a quiet place. Use mala beads or incorporate the word or phrase into your asana practice.
Whichever body you choose to enhance—the physical, mental, spiritual, or perhaps a combination of the three—stay conscious of the transformation in your body, mind, and breath. A daily practice might not give you a “perfect” figure or turn you into a meditation master, but it will cultivate a new, beautiful, and fulfilling relationship between you and your universe.