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Yoga Lifestyle: 3 Steps to Help Fit Yoga Into Your Busy Life

 

Someone much more clever and busy than me once said that busyness is THE modern disease. 

And it's made worse by the fact that so many of us take pride in catching it: we compete to see who can be the busiest, pride ourselves on how little time we have for ourselves, and wear our resulting exhaustion as a badge of honour.

So where the heck is a yoga practice meant to fit in?! How do you start living a yoga lifestyle? Especially if it’s a self-practice, meaning you have no external diary appointment or pre-paid class to guilt trip you to do it.

These are the three simple steps you can take to fit a yoga self-practice into your already too busy life:

 

Step One: change what a proper practice means to you

Step Two: see your practice in the context of your lifetime, not just your life

Step Three: remove hurdles

Step One: change what a proper practice means to you

A "proper" practice needs to be first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, of at least an hour. Right?!

That’s great if your mornings allow but there is nothing wrong with practicing at different times of the day, or for different lengths of time, or when you have just eaten. 

Have kids that need getting up, dressing, and feeding to be out of the house first thing in the morning? Been running around all day and have barely eaten so need to inhale a sandwich and banana to stop you fainting when you step on your mat? Work that early shift at the weekends? Only have 10 minutes between conference calls today? Get the best writing done late at night when the world is quiet so actually need to sleep during the early hours? 

If any of this applies to you, the “traditionalists” who tell you that your practice must take place in a certain time/place/way are implicitly saying you cannot be the yogi that they are and live the yoga lifestyle they live. Well, frankly, screw that. It is a privilege to have the time and resources to put an asana practice above all other responsibilities. If you are not blessed with that privilege, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with your path to spiritual enlightenment. 

All that a proper practice requires is that you treat it as such. Honour it. Honour yourself. Honour what yoga means to you. THAT is a practice. THAT is a yoga lifestyle. THAT is yoga.

Step Two: see you practice in the context of your lifetime, not just your life

Step One was about fitting your yoga into the realities of your life. Now I want you to zoom even further out and see your yoga in the context of your LIFETIME. Because that is the ultimate goal, is it not? To have this practice in your life, for your entire lifetime?

Your practice schedule might also look very different on weekdays vs. weekends, at different times of the year, or different times in your life. That is not only ok: that is EXACTLY what you want it to be. A practice that fits in with your life for the long term is one that keep giving you what you need, even when your needs change radically.

Embrace the fact that your practice is not going to look, sound or feel the same in different seasons of your life. THAT is yoga: treating yourself with kindness, being honest with yourself about your needs and what is truly possible. Your practice is not exercise. Your practice is not punishment. It is a lifelong practice. It is the yoga lifestyle.

One of my favourite ways to think about this is to refer to the ancient Hindu teaching about the stages of life, or ashramas

The first is Brahmacharya, the period of youth and young adulthood dedicated to learning. The second is Grihastha, when a person builds a career, accumulates wealth, and creates a family. The Hindu teachings discuss how it is easy to get stuck at this second stage: becoming overly attached to earthly rewards (money, power, prestige, your physical abilities) and so try to make this stage last a lifetime. Vanaprastha, the third ashrama, whose name comes from two Sanskrit words meaning “retiring” and “into the forest”, comes next. This is where we should deliberately focus less on ambition, and instead turn towards spirituality, service, and wisdom. This doesn’t mean that you need to stop working, only that your life goals should adjust. Vanaprastha is a time for study and training for the last stage of life, Sannyasa, which should be about enlightenment.

Where are you in these stages? How could your practice serve the different stages as you pass through them? Are you committing to each while still preparing for what comes next?

Step Three: remove hurdles

Philosophy is important but so are practicalities. This step asks you to remove as many hurdles between you and your practice as you can.

Question where your yoga mat and clothes live: is it easy to get to them when the mood strikes? Question where you currently practice: does this location tempt you onto your mat? Question how easy it is to get the music/mood you need for your favourite type of practice together. ANYTHING you can do to make these things even a teeny tiny bit easier WILL make a difference to how often you practice and how you will live your yoga lifestyle.

Even if it just means you practice one more time that you would have. Remember, there was one practice between the point where you didn’t love yoga and you when you did. It only takes one, and life can look radically different. 

Conclusion: Live a Yoga Lifestyle

I hope these three steps resonate with you.

If you like the sound of all of this but not quite sure how to actually implement these steps? The Book of Yoga Self-Practice might be exactly what you need. Check it out. 

Happy (self) practicing.

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