Whether we are new to yoga or are experienced teachers, we’d all like to do hours of practice every day. However most of us live in the real world and may have jobs or families around which to fit our yoga. So how to we keep our practice fresh and still have a life? Here’s what works for me…
Prioritise your day
Think about the benefits you get from your yoga and meditation practice. For me, these include more energy, calmness, coping better with stress, positive mood and physical well-being. Now think how important those benefits are and what a difference they will make in the rest of your day. I always tell my students that time I put into practice is an investment that will make the rest of their day flow so much better. For instance, Lu, a busy Charity Manager, prioritises her Dru Yoga practice and has found huge benefits. ‘After years of sporadic yoga and meditation practice, the Dru Yoga course has supported me to finally find a daily practice from which new depth is arising throughout my life!’
Have realistic goals
Work out how long you can spend on your yoga each morning and evening. Allocate a practical amount of time and be realistic – don’t make it fit into a perfect day when everything is calm and relaxed. Think of the worst case scenario and work out how you can still do your practice on such a day (they happen more often than we think!) If you can fit your practice into a busy day, you’ll always be able to do it.
Set your body clock for yoga
I’ve found that when I dedicate a set time for yoga, I’m much more likely to maintain my practice month after month. I started doing Dru Yoga when I was 15 and I’d get up 20 minutes earlier to do my practice before school. It became a (good) habit and I was able to keep it going for the three years I was at school. I didn’t have to debate with my mind whether or not to leave my cosy bed to meditate – my body clock was set for yoga and it wasn’t a struggle any more.
Use yoga props
Ring the changes with yoga books, DVDs and Cds. I always particularly recommend the ‘morning energizer’ sequence on the Dru Yoga DVD and Energy Block Release One from the book ‘Dru Yoga – Energy in Motion’. For a change it’s nice to let someone else guide you through a sequence via the DVD. I also love reading inspiring yoga classics like ‘autobiography of a yogi’ or the Bhagavad Gita.
Go al fresco
Despite the British weather, I manage to do my yoga practice outdoors most of the time. I live in Snowdonia and am so lucky to be able to practise in nature. I love doing my Energy block release 1, surya namaskar and Dru-style flowing trikonanasa, Virabhadrasana and Bhimasana next to trees and a waterfall. The fresh air and connection with the earth, sun, wind (and often rain) makes me feel refreshed and ready for the day. If you have a garden or even a balcony, experiment with practising outside.
Try a new style
If you’ve always followed one type of yoga, why not experiment with another? There is always more to learn! If you’re a traditional Hatha yogi, why not try the graceful flowing Dru sequences? Or spice up your practice with Bikram’s hot style or focus on getting your alignment right with Iyengar. Need a bit more strength? Then try power yoga or Dru Yoga dance. Visiting the yoga show or a similar yoga exhibition will give you an idea of new styles you might like to try.
‘Dru is my inspiration – it invigorates my body, settles my mind and is the most wonderful journey of inner peace.’ Marianne, Dru Yoga Graduate
Give yourself incentives
I don’t have my breakfast until I’ve done my yoga practice. It’s just a small incentive but it does work. Try having a really delicious cup of herbal tea or chai after you’ve sat for a certain length of time - even small rewards seem to help the whole process!
Go on a retreat
There’s nothing like a weekend away in a conducive environment to kick start your practice. You don’t need to jet abroad – there are some beautiful yoga retreats around the UK. From Cornwall to the Highlands – there is something for everyone. For example the Dru Yoga Centre in Snowdonia offers yoga, meditation and walking breaks or try a Buddhist meditation retreat in Ireland – there are some great options out there.
The secret is to realise that your yoga practice is important in your life and deserves to be as fresh and enjoyable as possible. As it says in chapter two of the Gita, ‘No effort is ever wasted in these practices, nor is there any failure. Even a little effort towards spiritual awareness will protect you from great danger.’ (Dru Bhagavad Gita, sloka 40)
Try the sitting twist
Here at Dru we take a slightly different look at traditional postures. Ardha Matsyendrasana is a core posture in many yoga styles – and in Dru Yoga we use it to lift energy from the solar centre (Manipura) to the heart (Anahata) in order to change feelings of inadequacy into self-worth. With this inner strength, it’s easy to keep the discipline of a yoga practice, day in day out. This posture also increases the flexibility of the spine, which in turn aids the flexibility of our attitude, helping us to see opportunities to do yoga in an otherwise busy day. If you’d like to know more, we teach asanas and sequences with this detailed focus on our Dru Yoga retreats and teacher training, which is available all over the country.
Jane Saraswati Clapham is a Dru Yoga and Meditation Teacher Trainer from North Wales, who has enjoyed her Dru practice for the past 25 years. She runs events at Snowdonia Mountain Lodge, the home of Dru courses, which is perfect for yoga and meditation retreats, introductory weekends and teacher training courses.
Visit www.druworldwide.com or phone 01248 602900 for more information.