Incorporating yoga into your daily routine is an excellent way to increase mindfulness, improve posture, reduce stress levels, and enhance strength. Whether you’re still a beginner or already have some experience, you may find yourself wondering how to pursue a more consistent practice. The good news is that there are several options available, including finding a local yoga studio, utilizing on-demand classes, or engaging in self-led practice from the comfort of your home!
Here are five tips to effectively incorporate a yoga practice into your daily routine:
- Create a plan and set yourself up for success
It is important to set yourself up for success and create a plan when you start a new habit. In the case of practicing yoga daily, have a general idea of when in your day you would like to do this. Ask yourself if morning or evening time would be best based on your work schedule and personal commitments. As part of this plan, it might be helpful to consider linking this new behavior to something you already do each day like an aerobic workout or as part of a wind-down routine after the workday. Once you decide on what makes sense for you, get the yoga mat and applicable props ready to go in advance. Seeing the props and mat ready to go in your environment can be just the cue you need to stay committed to your intention.
- Start with a small time commitment
It is best to start with a small attainable time commitment when establishing a new daily habit. Attempting to start with a ninety-minute yoga practice is not an attainable or realistic transition if you currently are not practicing yoga regularly. Set aside a realistic and attainable amount of time to get started (perhaps twenty or thirty minutes) knowing that you can always increase the frequency as you make this new habit part of your routine. Once you establish a consistent timeframe, it is important to remember that you can always decide to increase or decrease the amount of time based on the day’s availability.
- Consider accumulating time throughout the day
The wonderful thing about yoga is that you can practice it at any time. All you need is yourself and an exercise mat! If there are time constraints to commit to one longer period of time, consider accumulating smaller intervals of yoga practice throughout the day. One strategy is to set reminders on a work calendar to take a ten-minute break to practice deep breathing and yoga asana every two hours. The good news is that the physical and mental benefits of yoga can still be experienced even in shorter bouts of a yoga practice. The key factor to achieve these benefits is to make sure to link the breath with the yoga movement and remain mindful to the experience during these shorter sessions.
- End your cardio or strength workout with a yoga practice
Another helpful tip to incorporate yoga asana or pranayama into a daily routine is to end a current workout that you do with a short but effective yoga practice. You can consider this an extension of your exercise session or cool-down and plan the time commitment accordingly. The good news is that you will get more than just the physical benefit of stretching your muscles and bringing your heart rate back down. Ending a workout with a yoga practice can reduce stress levels and help get the mind into a mindful and calm state. The reason for this is because yoga helps activate the para-sympathetic nervous system which allows us to rest and recover.
- Keep the practice fun and engaging
To sustain the new routine, it is important to keep the yoga practice fun and engaging. Consider trying new yoga poses each week or incorporating your favorite yoga poses each day. Another option to consider is breaking up what type of yoga practice you practice on a specific day of the week. For example, you can practice more backbend poses on Mondays, hamstring opening poses on Thursdays, etc. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the practice of doing yoga and listen mindfully to your body and mood. This will help ensure you match what you are doing with how you feel in each day. These approaches can help reinforce and help sustain the daily commitment.
There are a variety of ways to make your yoga practice more consistent and reap the physical and mental wellbeing benefits associated with it. And – you’ll definitely feel better after a yoga class than you did going in!
Dana Bender is a Wellness Strategy Manager with Vitality Group with over a decade of experience in managing employee wellness and fitness programs. Dana is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance who has been teaching yoga to both groups and individuals since 2006.