The questions I am most asked as a teacher are How do I sustain a daily practice?’ and ‘Why do I find it so hard?’

These questions are asked by those of you who have found your way to yoga, have had a glimpse of inner freedom: perhaps in a moment between postures your mind when quiet and you connected to a higher state, or in savasana when a release left you feeling lighter and brighter. That glimpse can inspire you/us to want more. We commit to a practice and keep up for a few days, even a few weeks, but find we cannot sustain it.

The most common reason is that “life gets in the way”.We are too busy, too many responsibilities, can’t remember why we were doing it in the first place, or we begin to face an enormous inner resistance. We may sense things are changing, priorities shifting, more focus and connection, yet progress is slower than imagined so we revert to the old way of being and behaving because it is known.

In our materialistic culture we tend to prize the outer world, where we live, what we have, what we achieve in life, who we know, etc. Our inner life is very often left un-nurtured. So much so that our mind, having nowhere to rest internally constantly seeks comfort outside, trying to fix, to plan, to escape. Therefore, it is no wonder that when we do finally stop and turn our attention inward, we find a potentially hostile and busy environment full of comparison, judgement, criticism, and unrest. Many people tell me that within minutes of sitting quietly they feel compelled to get up and ‘do something’ – anything that relieves the discomfort.

In the yoga tradition there is a saying: You have to outlast your own noise. We sit long enough to calm the mind and experience a sense of inner peace.

Growth is not easy. It is full of necessary pains. Our mind and body have been conditioned to a certain experience of life. It is painful to change. Just look at what happens when we start exercising after a long period of absence: we have resistance to doing it due to feeling lethargic and stagnant. Once we start, the muscles hurt and feel stiff. Yet, if we keep going, we soon find the body adapting to what is being required of it. We gain more energy and strength.

When it comes to our daily practice, it helps to go into it knowing what our practice means to us, why we are doing it and how to best approach it. Once we know the why and how, we can imbue our practice with meaning and purpose, and are equipped to face the challenges that naturally arise.

I have absolute faith in daily practice as a compass to joy and fulfillment. I know that time spent moving out the kinks, rejuvenating the body, raising energy, and calming the mind pays off. I see evidence of this in SO MANY students and have witnessed my own life enhanced beyond what I could imagine!

Tips for a Sustainable & Fruitful Practice

  • Practice at the same time every day
  • Before you get on your mat, remember your ‘why’
  • Reflect on what when well for you in your last practice. Bring that sense of enthusiasm and confidence into today – enforces your ‘how’
  • During practice take time to soak in the spaciousness that unfolds. Feel and recognize the changes in your energy and state of mind as you move and breath. This helps your mind/body/energy to integrate the shifts you experience so that the effects last longer.
  • After practice recognize that you have brought a sincere effort. Reflect on your success, all the moments you overcame your resistance. This strengthens the neutral pathways that support your success.

Contemplation to Overcome Resistance:

  • What holds me to my current state?
  • Why am I holding this?
  • What can I do to shift this resistance?

When you begin to dialogue with yourself in this way, you allow time to recognize that you have resistance and that you wish to release it. You empower yourself to let it go consciously. If we are not recognizing the resistance, then it will unconsciously be running the show and building momentum. By consciously engaging with it, we harness the energy of that resistance to our benefit.