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How often should I practice yoga?


Are you asking yourself how many times you should practice yoga a week?

Yoga is a vast science that is not possible to ''practice''. Yoga is a way of being on yourself that recognizes a divine quality inherent in all living creatures. Through this recognition you strive to ''join;; or become in union with this divineness. People who understand Yoga say they know nothing. People who do asanas say they understand yoga.  Atreya (Secrets of ayurvedic massage)

If we are talking about practicing yoga asanas, you should practice six times a week. At least in ashtanga yoga tradition we are taught that practice should be consistent and without any long breaks.

sa tu dirghakala nairantaryasatkarasevito drdha bhumih

When that practice persists for a long time, without a break, and with sincere devotion. Then it becomes firmly rooted like a stable and solid foundation. Achieve success through a sound and continuous practice over an extended period, carried out in a serious and thoughtful manner.

Because consistency is such an important part of practice, choose a practice to which you commit yourself. Resist being overenthusiastic when establishing your practice and taking on more time (or energy) than you have. It is better to start by choosing a level of practice that you know you can maintain without a break. As your lifestyle changes to give you more time for meditation you can increase this time to include sessions of longer duration.

What if I am too tired after asana practice and I do not have enough strength to practice six times per week?

Who said you have to do drop backs or kapotasana every day. Of course, you don’t. Step on the mat is what matters the most. We all have physical pain and tiredness in the body after strong asana practice. But usually after a few sun salutations all the pain and soreness will decrease or totally disappear and you will feel better. Not only in the body but especially in the mind, you will feel great that you overcome your laziness and tamasic state of mind.

Discipline and dedication

Discipline and dedication are what matter the most. Body has limitations, one day you feel full of energy, one day you feel like you don’t wanna wake up from the bed.

But if you make the decision & the mind will decide, the body will follow. That is how simple it works. Simple but not easy, I know.

What will I get out of it if I will practice 6 times per week?

You will have a strong body for sure and your yoga asanas will get better & will look fancier.

But there is something more that you can get out of it….

If you maintain your practice regularly & honestly you will put all the effort all the time you will gain a deeper understanding towards your practice and towards yourself. You will be able to observe & see that through asana something else is changing…you are changing. Through the yoga postures, tensions and blocks will be released from the body & subsequently from your mind as well.

Body and mind are connected, body is just a manifestation of what is happening in our mind. Since we can not work directly on the mind from the very beginning, because mind itself will trick us, we have to use our body as a tool to enter and understand the mind…and beyond.

Everything is in motion and our practice is our anchor. 

We do not have many things in our hands, tomorrow can be totally different than we have planned it. 

Yoga practice is like a gift, it is ours and within us. With whatever minimum you know, you can practice wherever you are. 

Injury as a teacher

Injuries are the best teachers. They are teaching us that asana is ‘’not that important’’. If I am saying it is not important, I mean ultimately, it is not the goal, it is just a means to enter deeper. But of course, it is very important on our yoga journey and we can not leave it out.

When we are injured it shows us that real yoga is happening in our mind, yoga is a state of being.

I am writing from my own experience. I practiced for a long time in India, it was nice and warm, my body was open and able to do many postures. I was doing a deep back bending and grabbing my ankles, but one day I woke up and my back was stiff so I could not bend forward. Maybe it was not an injury because I didn’t feel anything during the practice when it happened but for sure something was there, what was not there before. Since then I have had periods when it is totally fine and I can take my asana practice further, but there are times when I have to stick to very simple practice.

For me that was the period when I diversified my practices more and stopped being militant about asanas. I started chanting, doing japa mala meditation and simply accepting that tomorrow is another day and I can try one more time.

But one thing that kept me going is that I stood up every day, every day I rolled out the mat and I tried. I saw I couldn’t so I sat down and did japa, chanting or just simply sitting and observing the game of emotions, judgements and comparisons.

No guilt.. 

Discipline – giving a healthy snack to the mind

Our mind needs rules and discipline, otherwise it will jump like a monkey asking for bananas every minute.  This is the nature of the mind and we can’t do anything about it, what we can do is to give her at least ‘’healthy snack ‘’ in form of yoga, not junk (mobile, TV and all the mind distractions)

Regularity

Our body is a machine which needs a clock to function. We know that everyday we will be hungry in the morning, lunch and evening. Our body knows it, you don’t need to give an order to the stomach to be hungry. Same you can achieve with regular waking up and standing on the mat.

Your body will learn and understand very quickly and will ask for it. Your body will start to wake up, without an alarm clock at the same time in the morning and if you skip one day you will feel like ‘’hungry’’ for yoga.

 

Magic of 21 days

Do you know the magic formula of 21 days?

Whatever you want to start doing and implement into your life you should give it a try at least for 21 days. Not 3 or 4 days, not a week & not even 2. There is something about this number & period of time that makes you go through different stages in whatever you do.

Firstly, there is an excitement, which keeps you going for a week, then you feel like I have done so much, I deserve some rest and many more excuses. If you keep going and stick to the plan no matter what, you will develop dedication, interest and you will be proud of yourself. After these 21 days you will not want to give up.

If you sustain for 3 months you will develop a strong habit and after 6 months it will become your lifestyle.

Do not search for motivation, settle your discipline

The motivation is an emotion, it will come and go! It is very hard to stay motivated over time.

Our body works on rituals and discipline. Discipline equals freedom.

As you are used to brushing your teeth every morning and this feeling of clean mouth afterwards…The same thing will happen with yoga practice, your body will remember this feeling of lightness and it will require it by itself. If you then skip one day you will know exactly what you are missing.

Start small – grow big – how to start practicing yoga and develop a habit?

Start with 10 to 20 minutes daily. After some time, you realize you need to spend more time with yoga.

You will realize that yoga is not taking your time but it is giving you time. Your mind will be calmer, you will have more energy. Your mind will be rested and the actions that you need to do in daily life will take you less time because your mind will be clearer and focused on what is important and beneficial for you.

Take care of your practice & your practice will take care of you

Monika

 

 


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