Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Home Practice Motivation

Utthita Parivrtta Trikonasana at home in 2007 {don't you just love that pose?}

You may recall that I took part in the first run of Amy Ippoliti's 90-minutes to Change the World online webinar course for Yoga Teachers. The course is designed to inspire, motivate, and build up us local yoga teachers. I found it fabulous and am looking forward to the level 2 version coming in May.
One of the things Amy suggested first off for yoga teachers is making sure you are personally getting enough time on your mat. If you are on your mat and getting your practice in, your teaching stays more fresh. So she suggests getting to class and also practicing at home, but ROLL OUT THE MAT! This is good advice for everyone even if you're NOT a yoga teacher. Roll out the mat and get to it (as soon as you're done reading this post, or even RIGHT now if you want to). You will almost definitely feel better for having done it.
Amy also knows, as many of us do, that it is all to easy to skip practicing, and to let other things keep you from doing it. Many many suggestions came up as ways to keep yourself going to the mat... listening to good music, using yogaglo, using podcasts, good videos, pulling out yoga clothes, even just setting a timer for 10 minutes of asana (knowing you'll probably want more once the little bell dings).

I'll add my own. Keep a Log! Keep track. It is amazing to keep track of what you are doing. They say if you want to lose weight, keep track of what you eat, if you want to remember your dreams - write them down, if you want to increase the abundance in your life - keep a gratitude journal.... Well, if you want to practice more asana -Why not write down your yoga practice?
I've been doing this with MUCH success since fall 2006 (yes, that's right almost 5 years!) It started with my first teacher training when I was required to turn it in each month to make sure I was practicing enough to earn the 200 hours. Then, afterwards, I looked at the requirements for becoming a Certified Anusara teacher. At the time they listed 4 years of asana practice at a minimum of 1-hour a day, 4 days a week; and 2 years of meditation 15-minutes a day 6 days a week. It seemed daunting but I just started writing it down and trying to make it my goal. To make that writing down easier I took from my initial log from the YTT and made my own little monthly spreadsheet. It has a column down the side for day of the week and date then columns for each: Asana, Meditation, Teaching, Class, Reading/Journaling, Chanting/Pranayama.... and now in the margins I put in Yoga Nidra/guided Savasana and sometimes other things like going for walks, doing pilates, or movement/dance time.
I started just writing down the amount of time I practiced in each column. It felt good to see the days filling in, like a little reward for getting myself on the mat. In the beginning I would struggle to get in 4 hours of asana (and forget about the meditation). But each week as I looked at my spreadsheet I could see, 'ok, I'd like to skip practice today and just eat bon-bons, but I have only done 3 hours, I should probably do it today.' And over time it grew easier and easier until I didn't worry about making sure I had 4 hours on my own each week. Now, it still feels like a simple but super big reward to write down my practice. I take pride in having a home practice that is going strong.
My struggle isn't usually about motivation to get on the mat, it's more about time. But having this log does help when the motivation is wearing thin. I can just look and see how it's going. Usually even if I don't "feel" like doing my practice... by realizing I've been off my mat more lately it's enough to get me started, then 10 minutes in I'm hooked and before I know it I'm an hour in and going strong.
So it seems really simple, but it may be worth giving it a try. I recommend keeping a log of whatever practice you feel is most important. Then setting a reasonable "goal" and using the log to stick as close to it as you can. Tell me if you give keeping a log a shot and let me know how it goes for you.

Contemplation: What simple things motivate you to stay on your mat?

1 comment:

Audra said...

This is such a great suggestion. I had a very strong home practice when I was in New York, between YogaGlo and just rolling out the mat, but it's completely faltered back here in Virginia, since all of my routines and schedules and facts of life got changed. I've tried a couple of things but nothing has helped, and here I am, going days and days without my trusty friend yoga. Perhaps seeing it so stark and clear will help!

I also recommend for those who this might be possible -- find a place where you can leave your mat out, especially if you can put a little altar of everything that inspires there (I no longer have the space + now live with a chew-happy lab). Each time you walk by, there it is. And at any moment, you can drop in.

I am really looming forward to being back at class this week! Definitely Tuesday's class, if not also Sunday.