Making time to practice

Making time to practice is one of the greatest challenges of yoga.  All yoga teachers hope that they can teach their students not to need them eventually, or at least to have the confidence in themselves and in their practice to be able to practice at home in a beneficial way and come to class for the challenge, for the company, to move along and into new and deeper poses and places.

But it's hard.  It's hard to confront a mindset (ingrained in most of us) that making time to nurture ourselves is not a selfish act.  I prefer to think of it as 'selfness' (not a word, but it should be).  When we practice 'selfness', it is about nurturing ourselves, re-energising, finding the calm place within, reconnecting with the love that is always immanent in us, but which is easily lost/trampled in the course of our busy days.  When we reach our Self through the practice of 'selfness' we emerge with more to give; with more patience; with more hope and optimism for the world and those around us.  When we don't, it is too easy to get bogged down in our little lives, with their inevitable difficulties, challenges and problems.  So a small time connecting to ourselves, means a greater and more expansive energy and more time to be with others.

And focus requires practice.  We like to think that we spend quality time with our children/ friends/ parents, but if we are cooking a meal/ reading our e-mails/ tidying up/ flicking through a magazine while we do it, then we are not giving of ourselves wholly.  Sitting with someone and giving them your whole self (your ease, your attention, your focus) is not something that happens that often unless you commit to doing it.  But it is only when you give this focus to someone that you are truly present with them, listening to them, watching the things they say and the things they don't say and learning to empathise with it all.  In addition, when you have given someone this honest time, dedicated to communicating with them, you feel more comfortable saying, when you need to, now I need some time for myself.  In other words, I have given you all of myself for this time, not a little bit of me and now I need some time to give that same generosity of spirit to myself.

We are all busy.  There is not enough time.  There is not enough life for us to achieve all of the goals that we have set ourselves.  There is no time for yoga.

There is time.  There is time for it all.  And deciding that there is time for you to give yourself the space and strength and flexibility of body and mind that you get from your practice is a question of making the decision to have faith in it; to trust what you know already about how yoga works for you; to make it happen in your life.

The questions that plague you will jump up to bite you on your mat - that is partly what your practice is for, being able to regard your demons from within a clear space.  So you might find you are judgemental, that you lack faith, that you think you are no good, that you get easily distracted, that you are overly ambitious, you feel you should be doing something else, perhaps for someone else.  But I wonder if you already know that loading the dishwasher does not have the intrinsic value of your yoga practice.  Who will judge you for your dirty plates?  Yourself?  Your mother?  Your partner?  Why?  What difference does it make?

The question is not if you can afford the time for your yoga practice, but if you can afford not to.  Can you afford to be short-tempered, harried, stressed, anxious, depressed...?  Are you seeking instead a more even life, where you have more time to give, where you can learn to observe your emotions and challenges with love and patience, rather than being thrown around by the constant equivocations of a busy mind and the strain of trying to work everything out all time.

You could meditate on the notion of time itself.  Time, which seems always to be compressing in on itself, can be viewed as expanding out from this moment infinitely.  You could focus on your breath and each time you exhale you can repeat the word 'release' and as you do so, release the mental chatter, the quest for the 'right' decision, the tension in your body, the tightness in your heart.

My hour of meditation is the silence from which all of the activity of the rest of my day comes.  It is the peaceful hub around which all of my inspiration, work and daily life rotates.  My asana practice brings ease to my body and lightness to my day.

It doesn't happen quickly.  It took me a long time to practice asana on my own and to lose the concept that it wasn't 'good enough'; it took me even longer to discover the riches of meditation.  But one thing is certain: if we don't start somewhere it will never happen; if we don't begin finding time to practice, we will never learn; if we don't find our own strength and stability, we won't be able to help out much.  As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  If you are tired, stressed, over-worked; if you snapped at your family this morning and wish you hadn't; if you haven't talked to your friend in weeks and wish you had; if you are anxious, upset, depressed; then you could stop doing the things you always do (work harder, run faster, sleep less) and try something new.  It might just be the answer that you have been looking for.


  1. The first step on any journey is always the hardest...but once you've started, you often realise it's not that hard at all. V.


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