We are only a couple of weeks away from a brand new year! For many of us, 2017 has been incredibly challenging year. So this is a perfect time to reflect and create new, sustainable habits to enrich your body, mind, and soul. A great example of this, and one that I would personally recommend, is to begin a yoga practice.
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is much more about focus and well-being than strength and flexibility. But with a consistent practice, you will begin to see evidence of all of these benefits and more. Here’s my advice for beginning your yoga journey in 2018.
Make a Commitment to Your Yoga Practice
The biggest downfall of New Year’s Resolutions is a lack of accountability. You can tell yourself you’ll eat healthy, save money, spend more time with family, floss every day… But if you’re the only one that will ever know if you succeed, then you don’t have much motivation one way or the other. Get clear on your intentions for beginning a yoga practice, and then commit — and do it publicly. This will depend on your personality, but share your goal with a person or group of people that will motivate you to succeed.
I made a commitment to join a 30-Day Yoga Challenge (more on that below) last year, and shared the journey on Instagram. Having thousands of others practicing (virtually) alongside me every day was great for motivation and accountability. Or better yet, find a friend or family member to begin a yoga practice with you. Whether or not you physically practice together, hold each other accountable and support each other through the process.
If your motivations are more intrinsic, commit to your goals on paper. Write them down, create trackers, record your successes and failures. If you’re a planner junkie, consider using a planner intended specifically for supporting your yoga journey:
The more time you spend learning about yoga, the more you’ll learn than “create space” has many important meanings. As you begin your practice, I suggest you focus on these three:
- Create space in your home: Decide where you would like to practice. You may need to move furniture around a bit. If you want your space to be more immersive, set up some scented candles or other mood lighting. I found this especially important when I practiced in the early morning: my overhead lights were too bright! The best setups for a home yoga practice are ones that don’t require much effort on a daily basis. The fewer barriers you have to beginning your practice each day, the more likely you are to stick with it!
- Create space in your schedule: The best way to build a yoga practice is to create consistency in your schedule. For you, this may mean practicing first thing in the morning, over your lunch break, before bed, or whenever you have time. In my personal experience, morning yoga is the most effective — your brain hasn’t yet had time to stress about everything coming up throughout the day.
- Create space in your heart: Okay, that sounds a bit woo-woo. (And that’s SO not my style!) What I mean is that you should prepare to be vulnerable and let go of your expectations. Create space for the personal discovery aspect of yoga. Take the time to teach yourself that a yoga practice isn’t just a workout regimen. Don’t obsess over nailing postures or perfecting technique. Try to focus more on the mind-body connection and on letting go of your thoughts and distractions. I have a long way to go on this, too, but we can work on creating this space together!
Find Your Tools
Walking into a Lululemon to buy yoga gear for the first time can be super intimidating. But when you’re just starting out, you only need two things: a mat, and some comfy clothes that allow you to move. (Got leggings and a t-shirt? You’re good to go.) You can do a bit of googling to choose a mat that fits your lifestyle and pricepoint. Or you can check out this post on the Best Yoga Mats from Reviews.com, which does all the research work for you! They explored 30 leading mats to determine quality choices for yogis who are eco-conscious, on a budget, or simply don’t like the cleaning process. I personally use a yoga mat from Lole, which is a great mid-range option:
If you have a few extra dollars to invest in your yoga practice, I would recommend picking up a couple of yoga blocks. They are great for beginners because they help support you in poses that would otherwise be too difficult until you improved your strength or flexibility. For example, I sometimes prop my hands up on yoga blocks in High Lunge to relieve some tension when my hips are tight. Pick up a pair here:
Begin Your Yoga Practice
Experienced yogis can practice yoga sequences on the fly. But if you’re new to yoga and beginning a home yoga practice, YouTube is about to become your best friend. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a huge fan of the Yoga With Adriene YouTube Channel. She offers a variety of video practices for all levels that are perfect for home use. Plus, she’s about to kick off her annual 30-Day Yoga Journey — this year’s is titled “True”, and it kicks off January 1st! Sign up today right here! And feel free to join me on my True journey on my fitness Instagram account.
Are you committing to a yoga practice for the upcoming new year? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!