Finding it hard to get to the studio on the reg? Or sticking to your home practice while juggling work, family, fun or travel? It happens! Sometimes life has us looking in another direction and – before you know it – you haven’t touched your mat in weeks.
I’ve gone through phases of squeezing in a practice twice a day to maybe once every few weeks; but without fail, every time I return to my mat and start feeling the physical and mental benefits, I’m in disbelief that I’d abandoned something that makes me feel so good (and so balanced).
I often come across articles on how to stay diligent with your practice: Have good habits! Wake up early! Stay consistent! Make it a priority! Uh yeah, I’m going to need something a little more concrete than that.
I figured out that the key to staying diligent with MY yoga practice, especially while traveling and constantly changing scenery, is to find ways to stay excited about it. So here are my tips to keep your EXCITEMENT to practice alive:
Make an adventure out of it
I throw my mat in my car and drive somewhere I’ve never been: a grassy park, a beautiful garden, the bank of a canyon or usually near a body of water, as I find it invites a
sense of calm. By making a mission of my practice, it becomes a fun reward for setting off and discovering something new. Settling onto my mat in these places also feels like a way of honoring and embracing little slices of the world that we sometimes walk right past: a grassy spot behind a barn, near some cool formation of rocks or under a tree that’s older that most people you know. Maybe bring a journal and see what comes through in your post-practice clarity.
If you’re looking for a quick jump-off in the Waynesville area, check out the cemetery, one of the nooks in Vance Park, something along Pigeon River or head up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Get a playlist together
Am I craving a pump-me-up power flow? Or do I want something to quiet my mind while I melt into restorative poses?
Putting together a playlist before I start helps me set the vibe for what my mind and body needs that day and is also a good way to time my practice. Hop on YouTube or Spotify and chose a pre-made playlist, or use the opportunity to discover new music, artists or genres.
I bounce among desert / psychedelic rock; Afrobeat; Indian drumming and sitar; or Indonesian gamelan. Sometimes you end up creating the ultimate zen zone and are ready for a nap; other times, you end up in a one-woman dance party, ready to slay the day.
A playlist is just one piece of ambiance you can prep for yourself. Light some candles or incense, dim the lights, pump up the volume – all these help set the mood around you and enhance your sense of place and presence.
Feel good in the clothes you’re practicing in
Have you ever bought a pair of yoga pants that make you feel all sucked in and supported? Or a top that adds a little pop of color to your look? Little things like this get me excited to hit my mat. It’s not about looking sexy per se – but it’s about feeling good in your own skin. Read our blog on What to Wear to Yoga if you’re looking for some tips!
As a sun worshipper, I prefer a hot day in a bathing suit top + some linen pants, flippin’ my dog as a tanning tactic more than a yoga pose (who said you can’t multi-task during yoga!).
Find a buddy and make plans for after yoga
Whether it’s meeting at a studio or coming together for an informal practice, I find that making plans for AFTER yoga makes sure I actually make it to my mat. Having a yoga buddy can keep you accountable if you’re looking for consistency in your practice and can also invite some fun! (Don’t have a buddy? Go to a class, smile, introduce yourself to people, be kind and maybe someone will want to be your friend.)
Maybe you want to sit on the front porch at Waynesville Yoga and have a chat over tea; head over to Mad Anthony’s for a cold brew or snack; have a picnic; get a couples’ massage; or better yet- maybe you and your friend decide to go on a yoga retreat together and make a fun trip out of it!
Find YOUR mat + keep it in eyesight
I’ll practice in the sand, on the grass or a rug if I have to, but I’m a BIG fan of the feeling and smell of my mat (yeah, whatever, I like the smell of rubber and hope it never goes away).
For awhile I was using this old, worn down mat that hadn’t withstood the test of extended backpacking trips: tossed in dirty bus storage and ripped up by cute dogs all eager to say what up. It had no grip or support – and was really only great because it folded up so small.
Then I made the switch to a Jade lightweight mat, which were the first green and non-toxic yoga mats on the market. No longer was I slipping around when I went on my hot yoga kick or feeling my bones touch the floor below my mat during savasana.
When picking a mat, consider what you need. Do you travel and want something lightweight? Do you want something thicker to support you? Do your hands and feet tend to get really sweaty during your practice? Are you tall and need a longer mat?
Figure out what type of mat will best fit your practice lifestyle, then head to a store like REI where you can actually touch the options. You might come across great deals online – but I wouldn’t purchase a mat unless I’ve put my hands on it and feel confident that it’s a good fit. Then, keep that puppy in sight! I know if it’s in my line of vision i’m more likely to roll er’ out and maybe just stretch a bit.
Follow these tips, pick a mantra that speaks to you, and you’re sure to keep not just the magic of your yoga practice alive- but the magic of life and presence.
Jerica remotely handles marketing + management for Waynesville Yoga Center. When not working, she can be found embracing whatever place she’s found herself in, embarking on an adventure, or contemplating life while perched in tree pose. Taking classes at WYC has helped her develop a stronger dedication to her yoga practice and has led to an obsession with heart openers.