Updated: Aug 27, 2021
A few years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night giving up the idea of a good night's sleep as my mind was too active and busy writing emails in my head for next mornings’ campaign launch and then I remembered the doctors’ appointment that I needed to cancel as there was no time to make it to the clinic…I was overworked, overstimulated and perennially exhausted.
This is to say that I fully know what’s it like when ‘wellness’ feels like yet another goal to achieve.
But despite experiencing massive overwhelm & feeling constantly depleted, I figured a way to incorporate yoga into my daily life and believe it or not, it did not increase my daily workload but ‘un-busyed’ my mind, so to speak.
So, what if I told you that there are solutions to nailing the constant exhaustion no matter how busy you are and a regular or even daily yoga practice is totally within your grasp?
By following these 6 steps below on how to build yoga into your daily / weekly routine, you will learn how to feel less stressed, more energised and generally more in control of your life.
Step 1: Be Super Specific with your ‘Why’
It’s not enough to say that your reason to practice yoga regularly is to have a strong body and mind or to accomplish a challenging pose. You need to further investigate how exactly does a fit body-mind or mastering a pose add to your life. This deep self-enquiry work will be the biggest influence on whether you stay on course or not.
Some examples to illustrate my point here:
I want to have a strong body - mind because when I commit to showing up for myself regularly I start to trust myself to do hard things in life
I want to practice yoga regularly so I am able to skilfully handle the daily stressors and don’t burnout in the pursuit of my career
I want to practice yoga so I have the physical energy and emotional resilience required to be fully there for my children
The list can be endless but you get the drift.
Your specific reason will be true to who you are and while you may have several reasons, think about the one that is THE most important to you and connect with your ‘why’ again and again.
Step 2: Start Small and Systemise the Routine
Structures and systems in our daily lives give us the ability to accomplish small steps that are tied to our big ass goals and dreamy visions.
Without learning how to set systems and structures in your day there is no way you can hit your yoga goal on a sustainable, long-term basis.
The systems you set in your daily life will clarify and free up your energy and mental space. Also, the thing about systems is that your don’t create them to fit your life around it; on the contrary systems should fit and support the life you already have.
Say you are a busy working mom of a toddler already hard-pressed for time. If this is you, then think of how much time you can realistically take out for your practice by taking one thing off from your plate. Maybe watch one less episode of your fav show or socialize a little less this quarter? Or ask your partner to take on an activity such as grocery shopping for a month or have him plan the weekend and playdates so it frees up your headspace? (Even delegating a simple and seemingly small activity that takes only a few minutes to accomplish massively clears up the mental space.)
I know the above is super hard to do and I can envision those reading this coming up with all kinds of excuses. But we are creative as humans and I trust your problem-solving skills to figure out that one thing you can delegate or delete without your world coming to an end.
Step 3: Make ‘Regular Yoga’ A Flexible & SMART Goal
Point two has several sub-points, so let’s dive in .
1. Secret of being disciplined in yoga (and in life!) .
At the very beginning of my yoga journey, whenever I told myself something like “I will do 1 hour of yoga every single day no matter what”, I have failed somewhere down the line. This failure would then affect my self-belief and I would resign to calling myself lazy or lacking focus.
I know I am not alone in this because statistics suggest that majority of the people are unable to keep their New Year resolutions.
The secret sauce of being discipled is combining consistency with flexibility.
Also, your practice needs to have a SMART goal i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound. If you don’t know this concept, then Google it and knock yourself out.
Here is what my Regular Yoga Goal Looked Like When I Had 16 Hrs Work week and Basically No Time.
Goal (When I had No Yoga Practice or Time): I Did 5 mins Yoga Every Day for 1 month.
If I couldn’t do even 5 mins cause (remember my launch campaign didn’t even allow me a good night’s sleep?) then my bare minimum would be 1 minute. Yes, only 1 minute of CAT & COW
My goal was specific, measurable, relevant (tiled to my Big Why) and time bound but also flexible.
Here is how I added flexibility:
Goal (When I was Burned Out): Do 1 minute yoga on days when I felt burned out; ideally 5 minutes and on good days I'd practice for 10 to even 15 minutes.
I started from there, built it to 10 mins, then to 30 mins and today it is a 60 - 75 mins long practice (AND I became a yoga teacher). The 1 -5 minute was my true momentum builder that led to be where I am today.
Step 4: Be Prepared for Obstacles
Even when I had this ridiculously simple plan, I STILL had days when I wasn’t winning.
And it makes sense why I slacked - Our brains have to work super hard to make peace with new habits, no matter how small or big they are.
On such days I had a plan B! It’s all about hacking your brain, so you feel accomplished no matter what. When you keep generating the feeling that motivates you, it becomes really hard to quit.
On days I didn’t do my morning routine, my plan B was to do a simple restorative yoga for 5 minutes in the evening via a YouTube channel.
The thing about planning is that you need to schedule a specific time and place for yoga (or whatever else you want to intentionally do) as vague plans are seldom executed well.
Non-scheduled plans aren't sustainable as you are constantly relying on your exhaustible
will-power muscles to make decisions that can be automated.
Remember when during lunch you just can’t make up your mind on what to eat? Or cannot choose which show to watch on Netflix? It’s not because you are a confused person, it’s because your brain is tired of making too many decisions in a day and wants more systems and routines to be automated.
Point being – schedule and time-block the plan!
Step 5: Celebrate Your ‘Small Wins’
When I finally crossed the finishing line, I definitely felt more confident and centred but I also made it a point to treat myself to a super pretty dress as a reward. And each time I have a small win - whether that is refining a complex asana or let's say finishing this blog post (I ate dark chocolate after publishing this - just FYI), I reward myself.
Most of us have a tendency to not celebrate our small wins (and I've been on this side of the fence for too long). We accomplish something (be it big or small) and quickly go on to the next goal and to the next without taking a moment to acknowledge what we have just done.
Celebrating small wins is not only about feeling good but necessary to create a sustainable practice..
Acknowledging our small wins sparks the reward circuitry of our brains and releases chemicals that gives us the feeling of pride and fulfillment and makes us want to go further towards our next win.
On the contrary, rushing from one task to the other, without taking a moment to pat ourselves on the back AND giving ourselves a tangible reward, it's easy to become too hard on ourselves. Instead of enjoying the process of working towards our vision, we get anxiety ridden, impatient and disappointed with our progress... and then we lose track.
So yeah, celebrate your small wins to achieve a big goal like #regularyogapractice
Step 6: Re-Access Your Routine to either Quit, Scale or Pivot.
Just like we start with a bit of centering asanas or meditation in our yoga practice to assess our energy levels and our headspace, similarly it's important to reflect on our daily routine.
Without reflection on where we are, we cannot access how far we have come and where we want to go.
In spite of our best intentions and resolve, it is easy to fall off the track. But when we take time to reflect and be honest with ourselves, we come up with solutions that deliver results.
Reflection allows us to replace judgement with curiosity so we can notice emotional & behavioural patterns coming in the way of our progress. Reflection fosters insights without which we remain unclear on how to course correct.
Your reflection will teach you how to move forward: to either be in a maintenance phase or growth phase or simply quit the practice since you are not enjoying it or benefitting from it (...said no one ever! but maybe you are that rare specie who is not finding yoga to be effective).
There you have it! My six steps to practicing yoga regularly that has you feeling empowered while reducing overwhelm ... that comes from being a career-gal, mom, wife and what not. Oh, did I mention the joy that comes from having a fit body..?
Ok so let's summarise the 6 steps on how to practice #yogaregularly in spite of being Miss Busy and feeling overwhelmed:
Be Super Specific with your ‘Why’
Start Small and Systemise the Routine
Make ‘Regular Yoga’ A Flexible & SMART Goal
Be Prepared for Obstacles
Celebrate Your ‘Small Wins’
Re-Access your Routine to either quit, scale or pivot.
Now, if you want to get a 20 mins Anti-Desk Yoga Class designed to remove stagnant energy & counteract poor postures, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll share the video.