Any self practice in yoga starts with the discipline of actually making time to do some yoga, and for me this means physically getting on the mat. In a standard home/work/life environment, I find a daily practice very hard to maintain.
Many yogis swear by getting up an hour earlier and doing yoga before the house has awoken. I am not a morning person though and that is eating into my valuable sleeping time thanks very much! Plus my eldest kid gets up super early anyway.
And yet family life seems to eat away at the time during the day and come bedtime I have not managed to squeeze in even 5 minutes.
My solution has been to have my mat right next to my bed. It means that the very first thing I do in the morning is getting on the mat. Once I am on the mat I do yoga! First thing in the morning this works brilliantly for me as I am half asleep and I start my sun salutations before my brain has engaged and started giving me reasons to do other things. And once I have started, I rarely stop.
Getting on the mat feels like the start of my self-discipline, because, after all, self-practice is about just that: mindfully taking your yoga classes into your own life. To encompass the stillness and grounding you get from going to a class, and bringing it into everyday life.
But yoga is not something you achieve once. It is a daily, or even hourly, journey. It may start with postures and maybe some breathing work, but it is about changing your entire mindset into listening to your body and your mind all the time. About taking responsibility for your life and your decisions and bringing the decision of getting on the mat and turning it into a way to look at your whole life and get on top of it all.
This looks different for every person, and looks different every day. For me getting on the mat has become an excuse now – I mean how ridiculous that I blame my mat being dirty, or packed away, or out of sight as the excuse why I have not done any yoga today.
Despite being a teacher of yoga for 4 years now, I have a daily struggle with this decision. With this discipline.
My hopes for my year of travel are to help give me space and time to establish my yoga practice. To get my arse into gear and stop making time an excuse not to get on the mat! And what’s more I need to stop using my mat as an excuse for not doing yoga!
So this morning, in a spare 5 minutes while I was waiting for a lift to arrive, I just got right down on the floor and did some sun salutations without even getting on the mat. Mat nowhere in sight. And it felt great.