Illustration: The Magazine of Yoga
Over-scheduled or Under-committed?
Making yoga a priority
BY MAGAZINE ART EDITOR AJA BLANC
Action expresses priority.
~ Mohandas Ghandi
This is the season of list making: shopping lists for grand feasts, lists for gifts we want to give, and if we’re lucky, gifts we would like to receive. And of course there is the pervasive New Years resolution list, abounding with wishful thinking for the year to come (and maybe even a wish or two left over from the year before.)
Resolutions are great, but I prefer to frame my list a little differently, thinking of it more as an ordering of priorities.
I find that when I am clear on what my priorities are I am naturally resolved to manifest them. I have been making these lists almost my entire life and I recently found one that I wrote in second grade, which includes such self improvement priorities as “carry a purse to school everyday” and “have better grammer”, that last one clearly needed at the time.
I am starting to think that being clear on your priorities is a good year round activity. That’s because I spent the last 11 months accumulating new goals and interests, things to learn and things to do. By the time November comes around, the list is so deep and long, I often lose sight of the real priorities, or burn out trying to accomplish it all.
Yoga is almost always at the top of my list of priorities. Knowing that it is a priority in my life over other things is what keeps me dedicated to my practice. Friends and students often tell me of their struggles with maintaining a regular yoga practice.
As you can imagine, the number one cited reason is time. There is never enough of it and an hour-long yoga practice each day seems extravagant amidst the time famine.
Self-help? Show up.
I have heard (and tried) all the tips, advice and strategies for staying dedicated to a regular yoga practice. From shortening your practice, to squeezing it in at odd times – I once saw a book about doing yoga in the bath! – there are apps, props, books and videos all aimed at helping budding yogis achieve the hardest part of the practice – showing up.
The real secret to keeping a regular practice is actually a simple truth: If yoga is a priority in your life, you will maintain a regular practice. When folks say they don’t have time to practice, what they are really saying is that there are other things in their lives that are a priority to them over yoga.
And often these things are prioritized for a good reason – they are vital aspects of life such as work and family. I work a full time job, teach yoga and make art on the side plus that giant accumulated list from the past 11 months, so I often tell myself there’s just no time.
But when I feel as if I have no time for yoga, I have to remind myself that the real truth is that I am deciding that other things are a priority over my practice. Sometimes its for very good reasons, other times, not so much.
Check the list of what you’re really doing with your time
When I take stock of everything in my life list – those things I am spending energy, resources and time on and see that it includes things that are less of a priority than my yoga practice, I realize there is a disconnect. Living with equanimity places our values in line with our actions and getting in touch with what is really important to me helps get things in line.
Making those lists (and, ahem, checking them twice) has been a big help to me in achieving my goals and living the life I want to lead. I invite you to write your own as the year comes to end – not a list of what you are resolved to do or get, but what is important to you. The resolutions come easy after that.
Peace to your practice,
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Name may be withheld by request.
© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.