The hashtag, #yogaeverydamnday, has gone viral recently, but what if you’re struggling to find the time to do yoga any "damn day?" What if you’re so busy that yoga ends up being yet another thing that slips off the bottom of your endless “To Do” list? Well, here’s a guide to yoga for the busy yogi that can help.
Making Everything Yoga
Firstly, it’s important to remember that yoga is about so much more than performing postures. Getting on your yoga mat is actually a tiny part of leading a yogic life. In the words of Swami Kripalu, “To perform every action artfully is yoga.” This means that by bringing more conscious awareness to your day, you can make whatever you are doing part of your yoga practice. The way you interact with others can be yoga. The way you work can be yoga. The way you engage with your own mind can be yoga. The yamas and niyamas are the yogic principles that form the foundation for every yogic path, and they provide guidance for how to live every aspect of your life, not just the way you hold warrior two pose.
The good news for busy people is that this means that you don’t need devoted time on a mat to “practice yoga” because it can be integrated into your whole life.
When you’re incredibly busy, don’t underestimate the difference that taking one mindful breath can make. You may not have time to get on your yoga mat, but everyone has time to stop and take one complete breath with awareness.
One of the great things about yoga is the way it helps us to shift our focus from mental to physical. We spend so much of our days lost in thought and living in our heads that it’s easy to forget to check in with our physical bodies. It’s worth considering ways that you can bring more mindful awareness to your physical body during your day. Focusing attention on your posture, your movement, and the sensations you feel in your body while you’re moving through your day can be incredibly rewarding. They are an anchor to the present moment, and help you to cultivate more mindfulness, which is known to relieve stress and anxiety. (Learn more in 6 Techniques to Staying Present.)
Also, when you tune in to your body regularly, you get better at working out what it needs. Maybe you’d benefit from a gentle backbend while seated at your desk, practicing eagle pose arms while you’re on the bus or even taking a standing forward fold on your lunch break. And the more you do this, the less you will care what people think.
So, why do people bother to get on their mats at all?
Getting to Practice
There are a huge range of physical, mental and spiritual benefits associated with physical yoga practice. While it’s possible to apply the principles of yoga to your life, and even to integrate mindful yoga-inspired movements into your activities, it’s not always easy when you’re caught up in the flow of your day. Sometimes you need to set the time aside, to prevent your busy-ness from overwhelming you. There is also a real beauty to spending time doing nothing but practicing yoga. This dedicated time is powerful, and it allows you to learn lessons and skills that can enhance your life off the mat.
When it comes to practicing physical yoga postures, if you’re not able to get to class or devote an hour to your practice, "little and often" can be your mantra. Be strict with this. Carve out 10 minutes to practice, commit to it, and prioritize it as you would an essential work-related meeting. Come to your mat, set a timer and move through whatever postures your body is asking for. (Read more in 5 Best Yoga Poses for the Workaholic.) Use the limited time to add intensity and focus to your practice. Resolve to make every moment of your practice a mindful one. If you can do this every day, you’ll be amazed at the difference such a small amount of time can make.
Finally, remember to practice compassion toward yourself, especially when life is busy. Beating yourself up for not doing enough yoga is not yoga. It’s completely counterproductive. Trust that your life right now is exactly as it should be for you to learn the lessons you need. Be grateful for yourself for whatever you are able to do, and when the time allows, embrace the opportunity to deepen your practice. Once you get into regularly practicing, you might surprise yourself with how much you are able to squeeze in.