I cannot begin to count the number of times a student has told me they don’t have time for a daily yoga practice. They tend to start with, “I really can’t find an extra hour in my day”. Then they go on to tell me that they can’t remember enough poses to practice on their own. So, they come to class once a week and consider that enough.
Practicing yoga once a week is wonderful, but a daily practice is essential if you really want to see benefits from your yoga practice.
Let’s start with the fallacy that you have to do an hour of yoga for it to count. Doing as little as five to ten minutes of yoga every day will add up to true, long-term benefits. Everyone’s life is busy. But, we all have to set priorities. Why not get up ten minutes early and do a few yoga poses while the coffee brews? This will set the tone for your day and wake up your mind and body.
You really don’t have to know all the yoga poses you have practiced in class to start your own yoga practice at home. Start with one pose. Pay close attention to that pose the next time you encounter it in class. Then take it home and practice it every day. The next week, add another pose. After only a few months, you will know enough poses to have a well-rounded personal practice. It really is that simple!
Now that I have eliminated the top two excuses for not having a daily yoga practice, let’s talk about a few others I have heard. “I don’t have time to put on my yoga clothes just to practice for a few minutes.” So, don’t bother with your yoga clothes. Practice in your pajamas in the morning. Practice in your underwear when you are changing clothes after work. Practice in your comfy clothes before you go to bed.
Another excuse is that the only time they have any free moments are at work. So practice yoga in your desk chair! Here’s a very gentle neck stretch series that can be done anywhere you can sit – at your desk, at the breakfast table, in the car (not while you are driving, please!), waiting for the bus, you get the idea!
Begin by sitting comfortably in a chair with your feet planted firmly on the floor, your hands resting gently in your lap.
Inhale and lift your head straight up – feel your ears getting further from your shoulders. As you exhale allow your head to come forward – chin to the chest. Rest in this pose for 5-15 breaths. Relax your shoulders, keep your back as straight as possible and keep your mouth soft. Inhale as you return the head to the chin parallel to the floor position. Exhale softly.
Inhale and again lift your head. As you exhale turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Keep your chin parallel to the floor and will your shoulders to stay down and relaxed. Rest in this pose for 5-15 breaths. Inhale as you return the head to the forward facing position. Repeat the sequence on the left side.
Inhale and again lift your head. As you exhale bring your right ear down towards your right shoulder. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed – don’t force on this one! Be careful not to twist the neck but keep your face fully forward. Rest in this pose for 5-15 breaths. Inhale as you return the head to the chin parallel to the floor position. Repeat the sequence on the left side.
Sound simple, it really is! So stop making excuses and go practice some yoga. Your mind and you body will thank you.