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Top Tips to Design a Yoga Schedule That Works

Jana is a yoga enthusiast who investigates every aspect of this ancient art with both Zen and zeal.

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Why Yogis Need a Schedule

To reap the full benefits of yoga, practice must be consistent and ongoing. In a life that's most likely already very busy, a schedule carves out the time to dedicate to one's emotional and physical health,. It also makes practice a priority, instead of something that might be squeezed in somewhere during the day. When yoga has its time in your day (or week), progress and all the wonderful benefits are guaranteed. A schedule can also help anyone already taking yoga classes to advance quicker and those who learn at home, to stay on track.

It Doesn't Matter How Busy You are

These days, every hour is packed with responsibilities and overall busyness. Most people know the meaning of not having a minute to themselves, let alone add more to the plate — like a yoga program. If life is exceptionally fast and full, yoga is still possible. As a matter of fact, it's more important to do this health saving art when days are difficult. Yoga has an amazing way of worming itself into the most packed of lives. A good place to start is to establish a time that works and why you want a schedule.

Goal Setting Is Crucial

Know the real reason you want to do yoga, both short and long term.

Know the real reason you want to do yoga, both short and long term.

Establish Your Goals

Before even thinking of 'when' it's more important to understand the 'why'. When you know why you want to do yoga, you're more likely to show up. Do you have poor circulation or perhaps, you want more energy, less weight? Better mobility and flexibility are also popular choices, as well as a way to combat anxiety or muscle loss due to a sedentary job. Hang a clear desire on to your exercise slot and your mind will almost automatically search for ways to find the time.

Time Can Be Minutes or Seconds

If you've never attempted to follow your own program, the most important thing is to just start. The truly busy person can do so by attempting a single pose whenever they can. Forget the perfect Zen environment, for now. Think more along the lines of the office or bathroom at work or school. A quick standing pose or breathing exercise can be done before going back outside the men's or ladies'. Our day is full of such small breaks that are ripe for one pose. If time is more available, yoga can be done at an hour best suited for certain aspirations. For example, morning and afternoon yoga is slower and more centering. Late morning to midday slots are best for intense workouts and evening yoga is geared towards relaxation.

The golden rule is to test, test, test. Whether you have one bathroom break to spare or thirty minutes a day, it takes actual exercises to see what time works for you. Maybe your work shoes and clothing makes loo yoga improbable at the office. What about a resting pose right before going to bed? A standing posture can be done while waiting for food or the kettle to boil. At the end of the day, regular practice is what makes yoga successful, even a weekly session.

Some Basic Rules

Once you know why you need to do yoga and when you have the time, some guidelines must be observed. These are designed for safety reasons as well as enhancing yoga's great benefits.

  • Always warm up before starting a session
  • When choosing a posture to add to your routine, also research its contraindications or warnings
  • Rest is as much a part as yoga as asanas and meditation – always schedule a rest day
  • Practice on an empty (but not hungry) stomach, because your whole body, digestive system included, should be open to yoga and active digestion will interfere and leave you feeling uncomfortable
  • Hold each pose for the time it takes to naturally inhale and exhale three times, increasing the breaths when you can hold a pose for longer
  • Inhale as you enter a pose and exhale as you release
  • Forget about being perfect, do the asana to the best of your ability
  • Listen to your body during a workout; when there's pain or discomfort, stop and ease back until you reach a comfortable hold that nears the limit of the pose
  • Always conclude your session with relaxation – the corpse posture is the most preferred way to end things off

Remember, a routine doesn't consist of random postures thrown together. They must serve your goal (weight loss, more mobility or flexibility) and they must also include counterposes. This ensures a balanced body. As a rule, a foreward bend must be counteracted with a backbend asana, a left bend with a right bend, energetic versus relaxation and what expands must contract.

Must I Meditate?

This is entirely up to you. Once again, it depends on the reasons behind a schedule. If you're relatively stress free and want to tone muscles, then doing only asanas are perfectly fine. However, when anxiety, depression and stress-tight muscles are the flies you want to swat with yoga, then meditation is a potent bug spray.

Warming up Prevents Injury

Warming up not only makes a yoga session easier and more enjoyable but also prevents injury, which can play havoc with a schedule

Warming up not only makes a yoga session easier and more enjoyable but also prevents injury, which can play havoc with a schedule

Tips to Stay Disciplined

Countless things might interfere, even when you choose the perfect time, place and goals for your schedule. Don't worry or feel guilty when you don't follow your yoga days perfectly. It's almost guaranteed to happen, sooner or later. The important thing is to return, hopefully the next day or sometime within the week. Inspiration does wonders to keep a yogi on track and eventually, you'll discover what drives you to return to yoga day after day. Below are tips to get you started.

  • If possible, dedicate a special place in the home to yoga. Aim to keep it simple, beautiful and peaceful enough for you to want to spend time there
  • Don't underestimate the power of small rewards! Promise yourself something pleasurable when you complete a session (tasty breakfast, a favourite flavour coffee) or a bigger present when you stick to your schedule for a week
  • Keep a journal to track the positive changes, both physical and emotional. When you're not in the mood, the entries' revelations about how yoga changed things for the better might just be the only inspiration you need

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit

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