One of the most asked questions from students is “How often do I need to come to a class?” and a second (least asked, but most thought) question is “What should I do if I don’t feel like practicing?” For the first question, the answers will vary depending on your circumstances (work, family, etc. commitments). But in order to get at least some benefit from yoga, you need to aim for one class a week (at a minimum) over a consistent period of time. If you can regularly dedicate two or three times a week to your yoga practice (at home or the shala), you will experience wonderful transformations in your body and mind. As with any new habit or skill that we learn, it is not the intensity of one practice that will make a difference but the consistency and reiterations of a practice that will see you progress further – whether that be in your ability to meditate longer or to easily flow in and out of sun salutations. The most important aspect of developing a dedicated practice is to make it a part of your daily or weekly schedule – and stick with it. All too often we consider our yoga as a lower priority compared to other commitments – but understand that in order to function well, fight off stress and disease and live a balanced life, you need to make time for yourself to rejuvenate and relax – and you can achieve this through yoga (click here to find out more about the health benefits of yoga).
With regard to the second question (“What should I do if I don’t feel like practicing?”), it helps to become aware of the trickster in our head which is called ‘the mind’, ‘reasoning’ or ‘thinking’. Too often we view our mind or intellect as the highest faculty and as such attach unquestionable trust in what it tells us. In fact, the mind is very good at piecing together a story or a ‘feeling’ with limited or no foundation to it – it is actually very good at deceiving us! There is a type of yoga called jnana yoga (pronounced n-yah-na) ‘the yoga of knowledge’ which is devoted solely to discovering the truth and discern between the ‘real and the un-real’ by investigating the very depths of our minds. So, next time your mind tells you that you are too tired, too stressed or too time-poor to do yoga, take a step back and apply a jnana yoga practice called atma-vicara (self-enquiry) and observe what transpires. Maybe you won’t feel suddenly more awake or less stressed but you can discern fact from fiction. If you can see yoga as less of a chore but more akin to a sweet elixir that you take when you feel down, tired, depressed and irritable (well, ideally also when you feel happy, healthy and vibrant), then next time you can tell your mind “I don’t care what you say, I’m doing my yoga practice anyhow!”.
Enjoy your practice :-).