You leave your first yoga class and you think, "That was amazing! I want to feel this way every day! I'm coming to class every day from now on."
And then... life: schedules, a cold, daycare, a bad day, a good invitation.
And then... maybe you feel guilty. "I haven't been in a few days, I told myself I'd go. It's too big a commitment."
But you don't need to. You don't need to feel guilty because you don't need to go to class every day. Yep, your yoga teacher just said that. Out loud.
You don't even need to go every other day. But you do need to meet yourself on the mat every day. You, your mat and your breath. That's what you go to class to support. Not the other way around.
Classes are great, even necessary. If you'd just rolled out your mat and tried putting your foot behind your head, it wouldn't have been yoga and it wouldn't have lasted very long (I hope.)
But classes are there to support your practice. Your practice is not there to support classes or a studio or a teacher or a lifestyle. Your practice, and therefore the classes you go to, should support you and your breath in every moment. Your mat is the proving ground, your touchstone, your daily refresher.
I tell my students that two classes a week is ideal, one class a week is good, and 15 minutes of practice most days is essential. Like brushing your teeth.
What does that look like in real life? Choose your class and time and make it non-negotiable. Choose your daily practice time and do the same. Morning or evening? What are the three things you must do before you practice? Maybe.... brush teeth, go to the bathroom, have coffee. Yes, you can have coffee. This is real life, not a cave and you don't have to meet someone else's ideal. You don't have to have coffee. But you can. You choose.
Most people feel great practicing in the morning, before eating (easier to twist and to breathe) and appreciate a little smile freshening first. Maybe you neti, too. Maybe you don't. Your practice, your rules. Roll out your mat. Stand at the top. Breathe.
Those are the only requirements. If you're beginning a daily practice, my most dedicated students have had the best luck starting with just five minutes. For a week or two, hold yourself only to 5 minutes. It's hard to think you don't have 5 minutes. Once you're in the habit, you'll crave those 5 minutes and wish for more.
What to do once you're on the mat? Here are some suggestions from articles I wrote for elephantjournal: "14 Steps to Your Own Home Yoga Practice," and "4 Tips to Motivate Your Home Yoga Practice." Or just head over to the Guided Practices page right here at Badlands Yoga and pick one for today.
1-2 classes per week and 5-15 minutes most other days.