Why practising yoga little and often is best
My yoga practise has changed a lot over the years. A lot. From 90 minutes once a week when I started practising several years ago, to an hour twice a week a few years later, to 30 minutes to an hour almost everyday currently.
I used to think that I needed to practise one hour to 90 minutes once a week in order to progress, and would dedicate my weekends to fitting in a long and sweaty practise and then leave it for a week until next weekends practise. And now, I still like to fit in an hour to 90 minutes of yoga in a class each weekend, and appreciate that this kind of practise is great for building strength and flexibility.
But there is a real truth in the saying of little and often. Once I said to myself that I needed to commit to practise yoga everyday, things started to change. It became less of a chore and way more enjoyable, an outlet for my creativity, both mentally and physically. Once I started to practise 15 minutes of yoga after work in the evenings, 15-20 minutes in the mornings or at lunch, and longer practises or classes over the weekend, I noticed myself progressing in poses that had been totally unachievable before. My flexibility increased, which in turn increased my determination to practise even more.
I started becoming more aware of how my body felt day to day and the changes that occurred in my body and mind, and started stepping on to my mat and going with what felt good on that day. Working with what I have right in that moment, and moving accordingly.
So here are my 4 pieces of advice to start practising more frequently, no matter how busy you are:
- SET YOUR ALARM 20-30 MINUTES EARLIER.
This one takes a little getting used to if like me you're not much of a morning person. But setting your alarm 20-30 minutes before you need to get up for work in the mornings, and moving slowly to unravel any tension or stiffness that's built up during the night is a great way to tick off your yoga practise before your day has begun. Move with some simple cat-cows and downward facing dogs, some gentle forward folds, anything to wake up the spine, hips and hamstrings.
2. SCHEDULE IN YOUR CLASSES
The easiest way to commit to practising yoga is by scheduling in your yoga classes before the start of the week. Book that Friday evening Vinyasa class or Sunday morning Yin, and get it in the diary. This way, you know that you're definitely going to have a longer practise in during your week, so you've already committed yourself to showing up.
3. LAY OUT YOUR MAT
This one is key for me. Find a space in your house that feels cosy, personal and spacious. Personalise this space with whatever makes you happy, for me that's a vase of flowers, my yoga props, maybe a candle for the evenings. Roll out your mat and keep it there. Then every time you go to practise, your space is already there waiting for you. Minimal effort, maximum results.
4. FIND WAYS TO FIT YOGA IN
Another goodie. Start to constantly look for times to fit yoga into your life. Maybe you work long hours at a desk? Try slipping off to a quiet part of your office, finding a free room, or heading to the park during lunch, and just practise a few forward folds, downward dogs and sun salutations for 15 minutes. You can even practise hip openers just by sitting at your desk. Try sitting cross-legged on your chair rather than your feet on the floor, which shortens your hamstrings and tightens your hips. This will immediately stretch your hips and make that next yoga class a little less of a shock to the system (and hips!). Even before bed, can you step on to your mat and practise yoga for 15 minutes instead of an extra 15 minutes watching TV? Start looking for ways to fit yoga in, and you'll soon find that you were making excuses before, and that there are plenty of solutions!
Finally, definitely don't beat yourself up if you only manage to fit in 5 minutes everyday instead of 30 minutes. Start with baby steps. A little yoga here, a little yoga there. Maybe you'll find that things open up and 5 minutes turns into 15. And 15 minutes of yoga everyday equals to 7.6 hours a month. That's already better than practising 1 hour a week, which equals 4.3 hours per month.
I hope this helps,