Rarely have I gone for more than 2 or 3 days without practicing, let alone two weeks. This is exactly what happened when I traveled to New York City, briefly returned home and hopped on another plane bound for Maui. Why is my Yoga practice, part of my daily routine so important?
The Importance of Routines
Our routines keep us grounded. We all know how important it is for kids to have a normal routine. It provides them with structure, discipline, and helps them to break bad habits and maintain good ones. Routines further serve kids as they build momentum, pride and confidence through repetition. The same holds true for us! Listen to what a Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven has to say about the momentum gained from making one’s bed. I love one perspective in particular: making your bed reinforces the fact that little things matter and if you can’t get the little things right then how can you expect to get the big ones right?
Northwestern Medicine reports that many people who don’t have a regular routine suffer from stress, poor sleep, poor eating, poor physical condition and ineffective use of time (1). As creatures of habit, “routines offer a way to promote health and wellness through structure and organization.”
When Routines Fall by the Wayside
When life gets in the way as travel did in my case this month, simply start again. Can you do so without any guilt or self-flagellation? If there are routines that have fallen by the wayside, spend some time in self-inquiry. Was the routine relevant? For example, if you stopped going to the gym a few weeks after setting a resolution to do so as often happens not long after the start of the new year, were you planning your exercise during the right time of day? Morning routines tend to be easier to stick with otherwise things come up during the day that tend to wipe out your intention to exercise. I suggest planning to exercise every day for a similar reason that may sound like: “I exercise Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but next Wednesday I can’t because I have to X.” Stating an intention to exercise every day gives you less of an out. Another question to ask yourself: I the type of exercise I am doing appropriate for my stage of life? I meet older people doing hot yoga and according to tradition, this style of Yoga may not be optimal. Once we enter our midday stage of life – late 20s to early to mid 70s, our goal should be to maintain stability rather than promote growth and development as is the goal in the sunrise stage of life. Lastly, it’s good to be mindful of whether the type of exercise you are doing is serving to reinforce less than optimal habits. In the case of hot Yoga, it may be reinforcing a pattern of pushing too hard.
Back to Practice
This morning, after two weeks of not practicing, I was so looking forward to the ritual. The sound of my mat unfurling as I rolled it out on my living room carpet, kneeling to light a special candle as I began to think about why I was practicing and setting my intention. I did a few movements and then came to stillness again, using a mantra to reconnect to my intention. After a few more postures that I decided to use as I went along to address a stiff low back – from rowing a Hawaiian canoe with this guy on Tuesday – I came to a seated meditation posture, ending with a breathing practice intended to balance and finally, meditation. I must admit felt a little rusty, distracted from all the catch-up items on the to do list, but tomorrow’s another day!
Happy Practicing, Whatever Your Practice May Be,