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When we just show up on our mat every day at the same time, we begin to form a habit. Some days it may be like dragging yourself there kicking and screaming.  Other days, it will flow with a sense of ease and grace. The practice of “showing up” is what reinforces our procedural memory, which is the first step in creating a habit and solidifying a dedicated yoga practice.

When creating a new habit for your yoga practice, there is an element of starting where you are

Everyone is different in terms of the length of time it takes to form a new habit. A 2010 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found it can take anywhere from 18 to 256 days. These findings are quite different than the trending notion that it only takes 21 days to form a habit.

Finding Connection

One of the keys to creating a habit is to feel a connection to the habit you want to establish. Feeling a connection to that habit can help us stay aligned with our desire to make and maintain positive lifestyle changes. To increase your sense of connection, it can be helpful to hold the intention of what you want for yourself. This could be visualizing feeling physically better or having more energy so you can rely on it to support your efforts until the habit is established.

Now We Begin

When creating a new habit for your yoga practice, or any other lifestyle change, there is an element of starting where you are. We don’t have to be or do anything different to begin.

In the tradition of yoga this is addressed in the first book of the yoga sutras where it says, “atha yoganusanam” translated as “now we begin.” It means that right now just as you are, you can begin to practice yoga. Often we get caught in the idea that we need to be better or different before we can start. Maybe today you woke up with a sore shoulder, a busy mind, or a tender heart and you say to yourself “ I need to wait until I feel better to practice.” This can be a trap to our success in forming a habit.

You don’t need to be healthier, happier, or stronger. You are enough right now. And each day we can use this attitude to begin again. If you have a day where you feel off or frustrated or uncomfortable, you can use that as a way to remember your imperfections and vulnerabilities. You can use those feelings to look for a way to adapt your yoga practices to fit your current situation. For example, ask: if I have an injury, can I do more relaxation and breathing today? If I feel anxious and frustrated, can I let myself name it and see if moving my body will start to shift it?

Pushing Past “I Don’t Want To.”

We don’t have to be perfect to show up on our yoga mat everyday. We don’t even have to want to do it. Sometimes we think not wanting to do it means we shouldn’t be doing it… but often that is even more reason to step in and step up. We just show up as we are and explore and examine ourselves. We hold our frustrations, resistance, our pain and our excitements with a kind of equanimity and wonder. Every moment is different. The more we accept the moment just as it is, the more space we create for ourselves to be part of that moment. We begin to strengthen and refine our adaptability. We find creative ways to work with ourselves as we are.

Hitting the Wall: 3 Tools to Help

This self-acceptance for what is will open the door when things get tough. We all have times when we hit the wall; when we feel our resistance to something so strong that we want to shut down and run away. With our daily yoga practice there may be a whole list of barriers that arise when we come face to face with ourselves. With these three tools, we are ready for whatever circumstances arise.

  1. We start by just showing up to our mat each day even if we don’t want to. This supports creating a daily habit.
  2. We connect with an intention that reflects the habit we are intending to create so we can feel a sense of alignment and determination.
  3. We begin fresh everyday so we are adjusting to our current circumstances and conditions.

When we have these simple steps in place, we are much less likely to run from our practice when things get tough. If we approach our daily practice with an intention to just show up and meet ourselves right where we are, we gain courage to overcome whatever obstacles arise.

How do you stay connected to your daily yoga practices?



Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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