I wish I could be the perfect yogi. The one who gets up before the sun every day to fit in an hour-long Vinyasa practice and can do handstands on command. I really wish I could be this person.

In reality, I’m a coffee-addicted, cheeseburger-loving workaholic who doesn’t get nearly enough sleep and counts it a win if I find enough time for yoga twice a week. However, this is the beautiful thing about yoga that keeps me coming back to my mat (no matter how infrequently). Yoga accepts everyone, no matter the status of your handstands, and will always be there for you.

I’m in a nearly constant battle with myself to establish a daily yoga routine. It’s hard. At the beginning of each month I tell myself that “this is the month I start doing #yogaeverydamnday” (who needs New Year’s resolutions, right?).

As of March 2018, I’ve made significant progress in taking time for me on my mat every day. I’ve found a way to motivate myself so that I can truly dedicate myself to my practice. If you’ve fallen into a yoga rut, or just want to stay dedicated to your yoga practice, you may find some of these tips helpful.

1. Self-Care

The self-care industry is huge right now, but you don’t have to spend tons of money on spa days or health food to indulge in a little self-care. All you need to do is spend a little time on your mat.

When I started looking at my practice as part of a self-care routine, it made all the difference. It stopped being, “I need to do this because if not, I’m ‘bad’,” and started being, “I’m doing this because it makes me feel good and I like it.”

It’s incredibly easy to do too much these days, with work, family, and social obligations, so it’s important to take some time out of the day to focus on you. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself, after all.

2. Remember How it Feels

You know that yummy post-yoga feeling when you feel well exercised, more flexible, and at one with yourself and the world? Remember that feeling on the days when it’s hardest to get on your mat.

One of the best quotes I’ve seen in this regard is, “‘I really regret going to yoga,’ said no one ever.”

3. Go Easy on Yourself

Believe it or not, when you miss a day of yoga, it’s the not end of the world. It can be really easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “oh I missed yoga today, I’m such a bad practitioner.” Don’t listen to that part of yourself.

Remember ahimsa, or non-violence, the first of Patanjali’s yamas. Ahimsa means being non-violent physically, mentally, and spiritually, and not only applies to those around you, but to yourself as well. Practice ahimsa with yourself when it comes to you yoga practice, and try not to be so hard on yourself if you miss a practice or two.

It’s a practice, not a perfect, you know?

4. Take Bribes

Image Credit: MetroTimes.com

Sometimes the only way to get on your mat is to bribe yourself (or treat yourself). Set a goal for your practice, and if you accomplish it, why not have a decadent dessert, get that pair of yoga pants you’ve had your eye on, or why not even treat yourself to the Berlin Yoga Conference?

Rewarding yourself for a job well done can help you stay motivated to keep doing what you’re doing.

5. Find What Works for You

It’s pretty much a given that everyone is different, and what works for someone else might not work for you. So why would you work within someone else’s confines instead of your own?

Find what works for you and your practice and go from there. If you love practicing in the morning, but hate Crow Pose, then practice in the morning and don’t do Crow. Or if you’re more of an evening practitioner who can’t get enough of Warrior II, practice at night and do a whole lot of Warrior II.

I always tell my students that if their body tells them that they should stay in Child’s Pose for the whole class, then they can go ahead and do that. Modify your practice, and the way you practice, for your needs, and everything will get a whole lot easier.

I think the best advice I can give is to just be unapologetically you. The rest will follow. Including staying dedicated to your yoga practice.