• Jivamukti Yoga Jersey City

    Developing a Daily Practice
    by Lauren Krauze

    When I was first encouraged to develop a daily yoga practice, I assumed it meant that I should take class every day. At the time, I had a busy marketing job and traveled frequently. I remember thinking that there was no way I could take class every day. I accepted the impossibility of this and figured that a daily practice meant taking class some days and practicing yoga at home other days.  

    After some time of working with this notion—which often meant setting the intention to practice at home but collapsing on the couch instead—a daily practice just didn’t seem feasible.

    Some time later, and after much trial and error, I have some good news to share: it is possible to develop, and sustain, a daily practice. Let’s consider some approaches.

    We’ll start with the benefits of taking class regularly. The struggle to make time for class is real: schedules are tight, demands are heavy, and some days we’re just plain tired. But herein lies the benefit of taking class on a regular basis: during class, we learn and experience how the practices of yoga will help us manage other aspects of our lives.  When we practice with other people, we find ourselves in scenarios that mirror situations that we experience outside the classroom and, in this space, we’re encouraged to watch how we respond. How do I react, for example, when half the class can fold forward in ankle-to-knee and I can’t? What thoughts and emotions arise when I don’t get as much attention from the teacher as I want? In this light, the asana room transforms into a laboratory, or a space in which we can investigate how we respond to whatever catalysts trigger us. With greater awareness of our thoughts and emotions, we can practice holding ourselves in kindness and compassion and create the potential for change the next time that situation arises, whether it’s in class, at work, or at home.

    Let’s consider another scenario: home practice. At home—and especially on the days when I’m overscheduled and stressed—I can practice taking a few minutes to connect with myself. This small decision not only confirms my ability to take care of myself, but it encourages me to make the same call the next day. I know that spending a few minutes every day to move around and breathe has profound benefits—especially when the dog won’t stop barking and the tea kettle is whistling and my inbox is blowing up and all hell seems to be breaking loose.

    In general, I’ve realized that immersing myself in a yogic community has created the foundation for— and sustained—my daily practice, both in the classroom and at home. On days I take class, I open myself up to learn an approach to a posture, or a teaching, that I might not have considered. This deepens my ability to remain open-minded and curious, both on and off the mat. On days when I don’t take class, I try to apply what I’ve learned in class to my home practice and honor the time I’ve set aside for that. On the rare days I don’t practice, I stop, take a deep breath, forgive myself, and move on. In general, when we remember to pause in this way, we develop the capacity to maintain grace, composure, and self-acceptance whenever we feel like we just can’t get it right or our lives seem impossible. For me, this alone is a wonderful benefit of, and strong motivation for, a daily practice, whether it takes place in the classroom, at home, or anywhere in-between.