One glorious quality of yoga is that it is highly adaptable; we can integrate it into nearly all aspects of our lives. While a little bit of yoga can go a long way, a daily yoga practice is ideal to reap yoga’s maximum benefits. Whether you are new to yoga or have been practicing for decades, these seven tips can help you stay on your path when you feel like you just don’t have enough time.
1. Practice Pranayama
Whether you’re seeking to calm nerves, clear your mind or energize your body, breathing intentionally can offer exactly what you need. Begin by taking full, deep abdominal (belly) breaths. From there, move to a three-part breath, cycling the breath throughout the torso. Once you’re comfortable with these techniques, try exploring more advanced pranayama techniques and notice their effects.
(Minimum time required: 5-10 minutes, once or twice per day)
2. Focus on the Basics
If an asana routine isn’t part of your practice, focus on one posture or basic sequence each day. If your asana practice is more advanced, concentrating on one position or flow that you practice regularly will allow you take in the subtleties that these movements and moments of stillness offer. Remember to be mindful of your breath, not only while in positions but also during the transitions between them.
(Minimum time required: 15 minutes)
3. Break Up Your Flow
You don’t need a full 90-minute practice to benefit from yoga. If a busy schedule is preventing you from practicing, split your routine into manageable yoga sequences throughout the day. This might look something like a few rounds of Kapalabhati upon waking, some spinal extensions and flexions (i.e. cat and cow) while you wait for your water to boil, a short seated or standing sequence in between daily activities and maybe even a few restorative poses or a short meditation before bed.
(Minimum time required: 5-15 minutes, repeat as desired)
4. Sing! (Or Chant)
Remember that yoga is more than just asana. Bhakti Yoga, or yoga through devotion, is said to be the most direct path to enlightenment. While kirtan circles and concerts offer high vibrations in a communal setting, it’s easy to find a recording of your favorite chant or mantra by searching online. To start, check out some albums by Krishna Das, Jai Uttal or Santam Kar. While chanting, you’re bound to find a bit of bliss, whether by yourself or with others.
(Minimum time required: 15 minutes)
5. Do Good
Karma Yoga, often referred to as selfless service, is the yoga of action. Essentially, we practice Karma Yoga by participating in actions for the sake of the actions themselves, instead of for the future results that they might yield. A simple example of this is washing dishes to wash dishes (as opposed to washing dishes to have clean dishes), but Karma Yoga is more frequently practiced in our society by volunteer work and community engagement.
(Minimum time required: It’s up to you!)
6. Follow Along Online
It can be easier to practice yoga with instruction than to practice alone. Online yoga video websites are a simple way to find a type of class that suits your needs. Once you encounter classes or techniques that resonate with your own practice, begin to integrate them into your daily routine.
(Minimum time required: 25-60 minutes)
7. Hold Yourself Accountable
Many studios offer new customer promotions or unlimited classes on a monthly basis. If you have the intention to fit complete asana sessions into your schedule, why not make a financial commitment to back it up? Obviously, money isn’t the only way to place value on having a practice; if finances are an issue or studios aren’t your scene, a quick internet search will yield several free 30-day yoga or meditation “challenges.”
(Minimum time required: 30-90 minutes)
If having a yoga practice is important to you, then make it a priority. Over time, small acts of mindfulness will become routine and your yoga or meditation habits will become a part of your day that you can’t live without.
What steps have you made toward including yoga, meditation or other spiritual practices into your day? In what ways have these practices affected your life?