Why shorter practises are more effective in the long run
I pretty much live by the motto “little and often”. My yoga journey has almost always been made up of weekly regular, short practises alongside a class if I’m lucky, rather than one two-hour practise or class once a week.
This has really helped me to keep on track and to get into a regular rhythm with my practice. My life is pretty fast-paced, what with my day job as a writer and my yoga teaching, so having the outlook that I only need to do one short practise a day is so much more achievable for me.
It does take a certain level of commitment to practise several times a week, even if each one is only 15-30 minutes. But trust me, it is doable if you want to make it happen!
My advice to you, if you’re struggling to find a rhythm with your yoga self-practice, is to keep it simple and most of all, fun. If you don’t enjoy your practice, there’s no way you’re going to look forward to stepping on to your mat each day.
Also, completely drop any judgement that you might have about your practice. Let it all go, and step on to your mat not knowing what you’re going to do. Be ok with making it up as you go along. Get creative on your mat, and learn to move in the moment, taking each breath at a time.
But for those of you that struggle with dropping your “yoga plan”, rest assured that I’ve had it all before. Feeling guilty for having practised yin yoga when I set out to practise my arm balances. Or practising for only 5 minutes instead of 1 hour before getting distracted/hungry/tired. But most of the time, you’ll find that if you drop your attachment to the outcome, you’ll step on to your mat without any expectations of what’s going to happen.
Why is this important?
Because you won’t beat yourself up if the thing you were expecting to happen in your practice (insert pincha/splits/backbends/handstand/crow/10 rounds of sun salutations) doesn’t actually happen.
Because instead of that thing you were hell bent on achieving, something else might pop up that you weren’t expecting that will take you completely by surprise.
Because you’ll have more fun when it’s not planned, when things happen more spontaneously.
Because sometimes, we force ourselves to practise handstands or arm balances, when actually we’d feel so much better if we slowed things down and practised some yin or restorative yoga.
Because we need to learn to drop the ego and let go of the outcome. Getting better at doing this will really serve you well when life throws something unexpected and unwelcome at you that completely disrupts our perfect plans.
Because we need to learn to distinguish between our egos and our hearts, so that we can make informed decisions about our practices. By all means, don’t drop your Ashtanga or Rocket home practise if you enjoy it. But remember that a self-practice should be about your own needs in that particular moment. Do you really need to practise a full hour of strong, dynamic yoga today? Or is your ego telling you that you need to?
I hope this helps! Remember that your self-practice is YOURS. Do what you want to do. If you only have 15 minutes, you better make sure that those 15 minutes make you feel damn good.
Less is more. Just try and get on to your mat more often during the week than not, and you’ll start to develop a self-practice that you truly cherish and that will stand the test of time. Good luck!