As a yoga teacher, I hear the same excuses whenever my students fall off the wagon…
“I don’t have the time. I’m spread too thin. I’m too busy.”
I’m here to show you that you do have the time. I’m here to help you find ways to make the time and embrace the changes in your schedule and in your life.
The first step
I just want to put it out there that anything that helps us to grow, anything that brings positive changes into our life is probably not something that’s already in our comfort zone. It’s probably going to require us to make some changes in our lifestyle. It’s probably going to force us to step up to the plate and try some new habits, which might be a little uncomfortable, a little scary even.
We’re definitely going to have to let go of some of the old habits which don’t serve us anymore – today I’m sharing specific strategies for how we can do that and find more time for things that do inspire us, that do help us in our lives… like yoga practice.
Managing your time
It doesn’t really matter whether you’re like me, and have a yoga practice of two hours or more each day, or if you practice for an hour or less. If you’re committing to yoga in any way, it requires time management.
Think of it this way – if you’re going to a 1 hour yoga class, it’s never just an hour. You’re not accounting for the commute to the studio, or getting your kids settled in childcare,or showering before and after your session…
But these time management skills can be learned.
It doesn’t matter if they don’t come naturally. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t raised with them. Yoga can teach you everything you need to know.
Make your choice
On any given day, you’re going to need start managing your time in a much more conscious way. When I tell people how long I spend on my regular yoga practice, they often come back with things like “Oh wow, that’s great, I wish I had that kind of time”. To me, it’s a funny response – we all have 24 hours to work with.
The difference is that my practice is a priority for me, so I make time for it to happen.
It’s pointless to wish you had as much time as me… because you do. It’s simply a matter of being a little more choosy with how you’re spending it and really focusing in on your priorities.
I know this happens to me – one of my children comes in and says, “Hey, Mom, can you play with me for a minute?” I’m like, “Oh, sorry, I’m too busy.”
I hate those moments, but let’s face it, they happen. Whereas if that exact same kid came into my office and said, “Hey, Mom, I cut my finger and I’m bleeding really badly,” I would (of course) make the time to stop and help.
It’s really important to call out this “I don’t have time” excuse – you do have time… if it’s something you really want to do.
Find your reason
When your regular yoga practice is a priority for you, you want to make it a bigger part of your life because you know it’s going to bring you more focus, more patience, more tenacity and more clarity.
This is what stops it from being just another thing on our to-do list, another obligation. When we appreciate the activity itself, it feels more natural to make it part of our day.
This is a crucial step, because you have to defer to why you’re doing something, to know it’s important to you.
How many things do we have on our to-do lists that we think we should do? Things that have been there for a month, but are no closer to getting checked off? Maybe those things just aren’t important to us right now. Maybe we’re not ready to make the time because we don’t see the value in it.
Seeing the value in yoga is important – it’s a key point when we’re talking about making the time for your practice.
I know that when I get the benefits of yoga, I’m better at serving others in my life. I’m more effective in everything that I do, and that makes me want to keep up with my yoga practice. Hopefully, that resonates with you as well – it’s a benefit we can all take away from our mats.
Making the time
Sometimes we have to start scratching the surface so we can see the value in something and feel the need to make it a priority. This means that your other priorities might have to shift in order for you to make your practice a higher place on that list.
If you need to make more time in any realm, I would advise taking an inventory of your time for one whole week. It’s not easy. It’s a tedious task, but basically what you would do to do this is that when you wake up, if you spend 30 minutes in the shower, you write it down. If you spend 15 minutes commuting to work, you write it down. If you stop for a coffee on your way and that takes you 10 minutes, you write it down.
You’re logging every part of your day so that you can actually see how your time is being spent.
This is a powerful tool – we have to remember as we’re doing this task not to be judgmental with what we’re seeing. We might start bringing things to light that we don’t actually want to see. We might not want to see that we go to check our email and end up drowning in the world of Instagram for 15 minutes instead, but we need to see that before we can change it.
Once you see exactly how your time is being used, you’ll notice places where you can condense your schedule and where you can declutter. This is a powerful point because you’ll see many repeats throughout the day.
I read an article recently that said the average person checks their email 100 times in one day, so instead of doing this mindlessly, maybe you’re going to make a conscious choice to check your email 5 or 10 times a day. That would be a huge improvement. You can choose to put it in your calendar so that an alarm will go off when it’s time for you to check and this way, you can surrender a little bit.
This will also allow you to put your phone away at times when you might get sucked into a project or social media or something else that wouldn’t be the best use of your time. You’ll be able to have some more clarity around how you spend your time and start blocking tasks together. Again, don’t get perfectionistic about this exercise, don’t just judge what you’re seeing. We’re just doing this for clarity.
Decluttering can only happen when we know what we want to get rid of. As you see your schedule laid out on paper, with all the ways you’ve really been spending your time, things will jump out that you can delete. You might find that you used to love watching a show on Netflix for 30 minutes during your lunch hour and now, you might find that that’s not the highest use of your time. Maybe you want to spend that time differently. Maybe you want to take a walk if the weather is nice. Maybe you want to meditate for those 30 minutes instead.
This is going to allow you to make some choices from a place of power, from a place of clarity. You could use all that new found time to go into your yoga practice, to work on a project you’re very passionate about, or to spend quality time with your loved ones, instead of just sticking with those old habits that don’t serve you anymore.
For me, it’s all about sleep.
Whenever I am looking for ways to declutter my schedule, it’s always about how can I clean up my afternoon and my evening so that I can get into bed earlier at night, so I can wake up earlier the next day rested. This is important for me because when I’m tired, everything is more daunting. This allows me to pull back and have more clarity and get more rest.
Install a cut off point
Have a cut off time at night from all of your devices. I do not sleep well if I’m in front of a screen right before I go to sleep and maybe it’s the same for you. Draw a line in the sand that you are not going to cross, so that you can turn off your brain and wind down. Just last night as I was in bed writing in my journal, my husband was trying to talk to me with good intentions, of course, about a retreat that I’m leading and I had to say to him, “Thank you for caring so much, but I don’t do work after this time. I have to power down after this time. Otherwise, you know what tomorrow morning’s going to look like and it’s not going to be pretty.”
It’s really crucial to have that boundary whether it’s with a device, which is the most common way people need it, but also with people and with interactions.
Sometimes you just need to be alone to wind it down. Take a hot bath. Write in your journal. Listen to an inspiring TED talk. Read a book, whatever speaks to you, but again, if you’re tired, making the time for your practice is going to seem overwhelming. You’re not going to want to do it and it’s going to be futile to a degree because you don’t have the energy or the clarity to make it happen in your schedule.
Take yourself away
We have to give back to ourselves so that we can stay inspired and so that we can keep going further down our path.
This is why I go to India for a month every year.
I always have a little nervousness leaving my family, but I know that when I come back, I’m stronger for them. I’m more inspiring for my students. I’m more inspired in my own practice. This lasts for months, so if you’re missing that inspiration piece, please know that it’s okay and know that you’re not alone. I give you permission to do what you need to do to get that inspiration back.
It might be attending a workshop, it might be attending a yoga retreat, which is a really powerful way to be inspired for the long haul, but know that it’s also okay if you need to baby step into that. Maybe you’re nervous to actually physically leave your environment, so listen to a webinar, join an online course. There are plenty of amazing online courses that you can partake in.
It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but if you’re lacking your inspiration, it’s going to be harder for you, so you need to make your inspiration a priority. You can’t pour from an empty cup. So fill your cup in whatever way speaks to you.