One of the most important aspects of a yogic lifestyle is discipline and creating a daily yoga routine that you will actually stick with requires commitment. Life is busy and we tend to fill our days with so many different activities, some useful, some not. But our wellbeing should always be a priority. If we feel good in the body and mind, then we can live with more ease and handle any of life’s events with a clear mind and composed state.
Here are some aspects to consider that can help you create a daily yoga routine:
In order to be successful at anything, we must learn to be consistent with it. In the Raja yoga path and in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (the de-codifier of yoga), he mentions Abhyasa, which can translate as keeping consistent to your practice. Patanjali says that the practice must be done everyday, at the same time in the same place. Focus on the quality not the quantity. Your practice doesn’t need to be of a specific length, but it should be effective for you. If you know that you will only stick to 10 minutes a day, when you get on your mat and stretch, or practice pranayama, or whatever your practice may be, then do that. But do it daily. Pressuring yourself to a specific duration will not work. After a while, you will most likely give up if it does not fit with your daily schedule. So instead of forcing yourself to a duration of time and causing stress in your life, choose the time that works for you.
Creating goals in life can definitely help in many ways, but in yoga philosophy it works differently. The main reason of yoga as a lifestyle is to empty the mind, become strong and flexible in the body so that the mind can also be focused, clear and adaptable. If you fill your mind with goals, you create expectations and overwhelm yourself. And then you will attach to these. Desire in the philosophy is said to only bring suffering. For example, if your daily practice is asana and you have the desire to reach a specific yoga pose and after practicing for 2 months you still cannot do it, you will feel discouraged. At some point even frustrated and question yourself, your body’s abilities and if yoga actually works. This is what we want to avoid in our practice. These are ego related mental concepts, and practicing yoga is about less ego and more awareness. So just do your practice daily, without attachment to an outcome or any goal. Get on your mat, or whatever your practice is, just do it and let whatever comes to come. If you practice waiting for an outcome or a specific result, then you will always keep your mind active. And in any yogic practice, the mind should become more silent.
This brings up the next aspect. What is your yoga practice? Yoga itself is a philosophy and it goes beyond the physical aspect most people know it as. Which is your yoga path? To figure this out, you can just reflect on which practices help you calm your mind and create balance in your life. If you are more interested and benefit from daily asana practice, make that your primary sadhana (spiritual practice). If it’s Pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) then choose that. If you practice Japa meditation (repetitive chanting using mala beads), make that your daily yoga routine. If sitting in silence for 5 minutes every morning is what takes you closer to your true self (inwards) and brings clarity to your mind, commit to this. Of course all of these can be practiced together and in my opinion we should have a variety of practices we do. But to keep consistent, you must first do the practice you know helps you and you will stick to. As time goes on, and you get deeper in your yoga routine, these will naturally become part of your day.
Consistency requires repetitive action of the same behaviour. It is said that it takes 21 days to create a habit, and 42 days for it to become naturally part of your life. A helpful way to develop this consistency is to practice everyday at the same time. If you are not a morning person, then choose evening time, or during the day. If you love mornings, then make that your practice time. Whichever suits you, do it everyday at the same time. Pick a time when you know you will definitely be able to stick with it. For example, I love early mornings. I do not have to force myself out of bed at an early time, because my body and mind are now used to being up early. So my time of sadhana is always then, because I know 100% I can stick to this.
Your practice is a personal experience. It should be done with enthusiasm and willingness. If you dread doing it then it will never work. Find what time suits you best, which practice takes you further away from the external and more connected within and commit to this beautiful journey.