Originally written by Zara M on 15 January 2014
I have been thinking this week about how you can easily fit a bit of yoga into your daily schedule here and there when it suits, but unless you build up some sort of consistency and routine for your yoga, you are not likely to be able to benefit from it as much as you could be. Also, it is not as easy as you might think to fit yoga into your life without a little forward planning!
I began to think about all of this when I was working at my boyfriend’s place during the week, and after sitting hunched for many hours over my laptop, I thought about how nice it would be to have a quick break and practice some yoga. I didn’t have my mat with me, but I thought I wouldn’t need it. I was wrong. The carpet on the floor was too slippery to properly ground myself. I couldn’t hold the poses well, and I didn’t feel safe enough to repeat my sun salute sequence too many times, or with as much gusto as I would normally put into it, in case I slipped and did myself an injury.
Also, you might think, like I did, that all you need is the space a yoga mat takes up on the floor; but squeezing a yoga mat in between a bed and a chest of drawers isn’t quite the same as practicing on your mat in a gym where there is plenty of extra space around your mat allowing you to move your limbs about freely, without having to worry or think too much about what furniture you are going to collide into.
So I wondered if it was really worth trying to fit a bit of yoga in here and there during the day if the space or situation doesn’t really cater for it. I came to the conclusion that it was, because not all yoga involves lots of wide movement, or even requires a floor that you can spread out on, or a surface with enough grip so that you can push your palms and the soles of your feet into it without slipping.
For instance, what about yoga breathing exercises? They can be practiced sitting on a chair or kneeling on the floor. Practicing your breathing techniques at some point every day will greatly improve your yoga practice overall, not to mention help to provide some clarity of mind in the middle of the day or before an important meeting. There are also stretching and balancing poses that you practice just standing on the spot; for instance the ‘Tree Pose’, and that other one where you bend over at the hip crease and grip your toes These are poses that require very little movement, but they still work you incredibly hard! Also, because there is not much movement involved you don’t have to change into any yoga pants; you can probably do them in whatever you have on at the time.
There’s no better feeling though, than actually planning your yoga schedule and routine, and also having a dedicated area in your home where you go to do your practice. I think that this sort of ritualism adds to the whole experience and makes you feel like you are taking yoga seriously. Do you have a special yoga environment set aside in your house? It might not be practical for some people, especially if you have kids running about, or limited space and rooms; but I have been thinking about the ways we can all integrate yoga better into our homes, and how we can carve out a calming space in which to enjoy our yoga practice.
For example, how large is your bathroom? If you are lucky enough to have a spacious bathroom, this could be the ideal place for you to set up a yoga room. This doesn’t mean that you have to have your yoga mat laid out ready at all times, you can roll it up and prop it in the corner out of the way most of the time. You can make small preparations in your bathroom though, so that you don’t have to think too much about setting yourself up whenever you come to practice. How about arranging some candles on a plate or tray somewhere out of the way? Lighting candles during your practice can add to the sense of ritual and add a nice soothing and meditative atmosphere to your bathroom, especially if they are scented. Is your bathroom warm enough? Perhaps you could pop a small heater in there? What about a tiny CD player? Or an area prepared for you to safely place your smartphone or ipad so that you can have some relaxing music playing? A clock in a visible spot is also useful. The great thing about practicing yoga in a bathroom is that you can lock the door and you are guaranteed some time to yourself when there are other people in the house.
Another idea could be to use the underneath of your bed in your bedroom to store your mat flat, so that all you have to do is pull it out and get started, rather than faff about taking it out of it’s carrier and then unrolling it, and then rolling it back up again at the end of your practice and putting it back into the bag – all of which takes up time and can put you off if you are feeling lazy or procrastinating.
If you have no self-discipline at all and need the motivation of being in a room where others are practicing yoga too, then why not call a few yogi friends who live nearby? They might be up for a daily morning practice before work if one of you has the space in your house. Knowing that your friends are waiting for you in the morning so that they can start their own yoga practice may motivate you enough to fit more yoga into your life. Yoga4Tango offers this option with a free practice session on Wednesday and Saturday mornings at out instructor’s apartment in central London. Alternative a restorative session in the evenings could be more up your street, to wind down and relax. I have really enjoyed the Yoga4Tango restorative yoga sessions on Saturday evenings. In fact, I wonder what I am doing this Saturday…