When I started training to teach, things shifted. I started to do my practice to get the hours in, to plan for class, to get some exercise in after hours of standing and sitting around during trainings. The joy--and often the time--for a practice was getting lost. After I started training teachers, I heard the same thing a lot from new teachers. They struggle to stay true to their love of the practice and start seeing it as something that is an obligation. Yoga and self care should't be a thing to cross off your to do list.
I think a focus on consistency only takes us so far. My first yoga teacher encouraged us to get on our mat for 15 minutes every day. She reasoned that if we told ourselves we could just sit there, do anything we wanted, we would eventually choose to do a practice and it would grow from there. In teacher trainings and workshops there are sequences . . . a sort of "what to do when you don't know what to do" prescription. This may be reassuring, but I think it may also be why we fall out of consistency when left on our own. We focus on what to do, not why we are there.
If you are wanting more consistency in your practice, let me suggest the following:
- Keep it simple.
- Do something that you love.
- Do something that challenges you.
- Ask what will bring you more joy and balance in your life.
I found a new quote to inspire me that better shares the meaning of practice for me now:
"Let your practice be an intention not a demand."-- Kat Sawyer
I still follow my first yoga teacher's advice of spending 15 minutes on my mat, even if I am not sure what I want to do, but I start with why I am there, not with a list of poses. What I want most from my practice is to be more loving and present with myself and others. I used to teach new teachers a list of rules for how to sequence a practice or an asana class. More and more I realize that intention is far more important. When you clarify your intention, your whole life becomes your practice.
The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you. A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it. -- Vik Muniz