What if I said having a daily practice helps slowdown that busyness? What if a daily practice was able to make you fit more into your day and be happier about it? What if I said yoga makes you more productive? What if I said meditation made life easier to cope with? What if incorporating a daily practice did not have to be an arduous inclusion in your daily life? What if it was easy to incorporate a daily practice of yoga and meditation into your life and it made life better? I reckon everyone would be doing it….
So how do you create a daily practice of yoga and meditation when you are busy. Well first of all we need to look at what a daily practice might look like, how long a daily practice might last for and then we can start to build up to ways to start a daily practice into our lives.
A picture of a Daily PracticeReally a daily practice can take any shape or form. Some days my daily practice consists of a walk, some yoga and some meditation. Other days it means going out to my garden with a cup of tea and enjoying being outside – watering, weeding maybe even a little yoga amongst the vegetables. I know some people absolutely find meditative pleasure in colouring in mandalas or being creative in some other way. Spending time in any form of mindful activity is actually the key to developing your own daily practice. But what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment and be fully aware of the experience you are having at that moment. If you want more on my thoughts on mindfulness check out my previous post on the topic.
But I am too busy to be Mindful…Well you’re not really. What if I said all it took is 12 minutes of Mindful activity to make a difference in your life? A study into the impact mindfulness meditation has on the length of telomere, a chromosomal marker for aging and disease risk demonstrated the effectiveness of mindful activity on improving mental health, cognitive function and increasing telomere length. Taking 12 minutes a day is possible for us all.
Truly busy people generally have great organisational skills. So to the truly busy person I suggest scheduling in 12 minutes a day in your diary. Or at least start with 12 minutes…you may want to increase it later particularly if your reason for starting a daily practice is to stretch more or move more or meditate more. Just avoid setting yourself up for failure. Somewhere on your busy timetable you can find 12 minutes for yourself. Even if It means getting up 12 minutes earlier of a morning or going to bed 12 minutes later. The kids won’t starve if they have to wait an extra 12 minutes for dinner and they won’t stink any more if they have to wait an extra 12 minutes for a bath. In fact those kids might thank you for the extra 12 minutes they get to play or maybe they might even join in. Although when first starting out one of my other tips is to find a spot you won’t be disturbed. Keep all kids, animals and partners occupied until you have well established your practice, that way you are less likely to be distracted.
Other Tips to Creating a Daily PracticeThere are many ways to create a daily practice. Below is a list of my tried ways for starting a daily practice AND to help keep it going. Some of these may work for you and some you might need to get creative for yourself. In fact I would love to hear how you go in creating your daily practice.
- Set your intention – what is it that you want to achieve from your daily practice? Do you just want yoga asana, stretches, calming the worrisome mind or breathing? Why are you creating a daily practice?
- Create a dedicated space – this is an area that you can leave your yoga mat out and all you need to do is step onto the mat? Create a picture of what your practice might look like and set your space up accordingly. Have props ready. If you want to use music, have your ipod or CD player ready to go. Maybe lighting a candle is part of what you envisage your daily practice to look like so have candle and matches at the ready.
- Decide when you will practice – schedule the time in your diary. Maybe you have more time in the morning. If you work do you have time during your lunch break to find a quiet space in the office? Perhaps evenings when you arrive home from work or just before you go to bed. Each day might be different. This can actually be a positive because it gives you plenty of opportunity to learn body awareness at different times during the day. Whatever you decide with your schedule though; be dedicated to the time you have set aside.
- Honour this time for you – sometimes it is easier to cross out or “reschedule” time because we need to do something for someone else. While this is perfectly okay it is important to remember you will feel better and be of better use in the service of others for honouring “me time”. It is actually one of the reasons I set aside mornings only for my practice. I know if it gets past a certain time I am less likely to practice because everyone else comes first because it’s just easier to say yes when asked. Saying no is one of the hardest thing for many of us but saying no is about honouring yourself. If you are habitually finding yourself rescheduling your practice time for someone else then let’s talk about learning to say no and learning to become dedicated to you.
- Set your alarm clock – if you are practicing in the morning or are concerned about when you might find time try setting your alarm clock 12 minutes before you normally rise. It only takes 12 minutes a day remember. When you find that space in your diary for your practice set your alarm and honour it when it goes off.
- Use a Timer – one of the things I worry about when I have a busy day ahead is taking too long with my practice. In the early days of my practice I found a great app on my smart phone called “Insight Timer”. This has been invaluable for taking the worry of going over time and running late for work. I am sure there are plenty of apps available or just use an egg timer. I like Insight Timer because it has lovely Tibetan Bells to chime me out of my meditation. I can even set it up for splitting my practice into timed sessions of yoga, pranayama and meditation. It chimes are specific times to let me know to move to the next mindful activity.
- Communicate your intentions to other members in the household – let people know you are not to be disturbed when you are practicing. Keep kids and animals occupied elsewhere in the house and lock yourself in your sacred space with a “do not disturb” sign on the door.
- Go how you are – yoga, pranayama and meditation can be practiced in your pyjamas. No special clothing needed. In fact I love practicing in my PJs – even in the garden outside. In the workplace just slip your shoes off and sitting for 12 minutes in mindful meditation during your lunch break counts as practice. If you want to wear your yoga clothes by all means make a ritual of changing but however you feel just go as you are.
- Show up – this is probably my top tip. Even if you just go to your sacred space, your mat, your room or wherever you have decided your dedicated space is going to be and just lie in Savasana for 12 minutes with mindful intent just to lie there and be present with your body this constitutes practice.
- If you fall off your mat, get back on and keep going – probably my second top tip and the one I have practiced the most. I can tell you each time you fall and get back to creating your daily practice it gets easier the next time to stay on practice.
Of course you can always join me on the mat in North Lakes or Petrie for further motivation for creating your own practice. Check out the latest timetable or contact me for a private session.