Think you’re too busy to be a yogi? Think again.
Being someone who is always on the go, I sometimes find it difficult to disconnect and take time for myself. When I first started practicing yoga, I had unrealistic expectations of how often I would practice and how fast I would progress. As a competitive person, I would push myself to my limits and attempt advanced pose variations at every class I attended. This led to constant muscle soreness on the days following the classes I attended and a loss of motivation to continue attending. Practicing fast-paced styles of yoga felt limiting because I didn’t always want to work up a sweat, especially after a long day at work.
After this experience, I felt guilty that I had not been able to practice and progress as much as I intended to. I felt that like my busy life couldn't handle the addition of yoga because it was actually causing me stress rather than being a stress-relief. Over the years, I have discovered different means to ensure yoga continues to be a part of my life even with a full-time job, a large family and various hobbies.
(For midday stress-relief, try this Quick Office Yoga Sequence to Relieve Muscle Tension and Stress.)
Finding the time or energy to practice yoga may not always be possible, but finding ways to incorporate it may be easier than you think. If you think your busy life is hindering you from pursuing your yoga journey, here are five ways you can make it happen.
#1 Pick a Schedule You Can Commit To
Making an intense yoga schedule can be motivating at first, but it can easily become daunting when life gets crazy. Start off by setting intentions for your practice that are achievable and realistic. Decide how many times per week you CAN practice, not how many times you think you should.
You can further break this down into how many hours per week you are able to devote to your practice. For example, if two hours per week is achievable, that allows time for one 60-minute class, one 15-minute morning practice, one 15-minute at-work practice and one 30-minute evening practice.
If it is difficult to find the time, it is imperative to make the time by creating appointments with yourself or your yoga instructor. Input them into your day planner or other scheduler as you would any appointment.
#2 Choose a Style That Coincides With How You Want to Feel
Sticking to one style of yoga may limit your desire or ability to practice. After an exhausting day, you may not have the energy for a vigorous class. Yoga can be useful in many ways because there are numerous styles to choose from. By choosing a style that suits your mood, you are more likely to maintain a daily practice.
If you want to feel motivated and energized, try Hatha yoga. If you want to work on deep stretching and feeling relaxed, try Yin or Restorative yoga. If you want to feel invigorated with a more dynamic workout, try Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga. These are a few examples of the various styles and there are many more for you to explore.
#3 Work Up to a Daily Practice
Once you have been to enough classes in person to gather a solid base, try yoga at home or at the office. Short sessions of yoga can be incorporated into your daily life in this way in order to help you cultivate a daily practice.
(To help you get ideas on how to do this, read Savor Your Sadhana: A Guide to Creating Your Daily Spiritual Practice.)
You can start your day by doing yoga poses in bed, or Sun Salutations upon rising. There are even Chair yoga poses to practice while at work. Before bed, a restorative practice may help you to relax and get to sleep.
Yoga has become so practical because it can be done at any time of the day and in various different settings, which means you don't have to be restricted to a studio. There is also an abundance of online classes to choose from that can be accessed from anywhere. The use of these different resources will allow you to support and maintain a daily practice.
#4 You Can Take a Short Break If Needed
Don’t feel bad if you need to take time off from your practice. There are periods when we must dedicate our spare time to friends, family or work. Although yoga can be helpful as a stress management tool, we want to avoid the pressure and stress of feeling like we should be practicing. During these times, acceptance of the fact that we need to put our practice on a short hold is crucial.
If you find yourself feeling guilty or disappointed for not finding the time for yoga, practice forgiveness to yourself, knowing that you will get back into it when you are able to. Taking a break may even help you come back stronger with a more focused practice.
(Practicing such forgiveness is actually a yogic practice called Ahimsa: Yoga's Single Most Important Practice (Kindness).)
#5 Injuries Can Easily Be Avoided
If you have certain yoga asana goals, trust that you will reach them when you are ready and the time is right. Being a yogi isn't just about being able to do a headstand or wheel pose: it's about devoting time to the body and practicing self-love. It is important to be honest with yourself and where you are in your practice before attempting to push yourself too far.
Master foundational poses and modify them as needed so that you can further your practice without getting injured. Injuries can halt your progression and disrupt your daily practice and lifestyle. As you connect more with your body, you will know when it feels right to move on to an advanced variation or asana. It would also be wise to work with a qualified yoga instructor who will offer proper guidance and instruction. Remember that every expert was once a beginner.
Happy Yogi Days
Now that you have the right tools to better incorporate yoga into a busy lifestyle, it is important to understand that performing asana is just one way we can practice yoga--and a perfect way to start for most! However, there are seven other "limbs" of yoga to explore, including pranayama (breathing techniques) and dhyana (meditation), for example.
As you continue to delve into your yoga journey, you will further understand how to live your busy life with more purpose and meaning. Enjoy every moment of it!
(Continue reading for a Guided Meditation for Finding Your Life's Purpose.)