Monday, September 7, 2009

Personal Practice Adventure: Carving out some Time

We have our Intentions and I am completely ready to deepen my personal practice. Enter one of the biggest obstacles for all actions "personal"... Time. Or perhaps lack thereof. We all lead busy lives and if you have children then your lives are even less for "you". One reason for setting a clear, articulated Intention was to acknowledge the importance of this personal practice in your life and helping you to carve out that Time you know is essential without feeling guilty, pressured or as easily swayed to Punk Out.

The trick to carving out these little moments of time is to be realistic and patient. Change happens best gradually and adding something new to your routine will disrupt the patterns of your already busy life. I advise clients to think of time as less "precious" and more as "it's only" moments. If you feel like there is NO WAY you can find Time to practice during any of your days, perhaps you should think about those thirty minutes as; they are ONLY thirty minutes in your day. They are ESSENTIAL thirty minutes in your day. The world will not stop should you step back for thirty minutes once a week, or ten minutes every day. What else do you need to do that can't wait ten or thirty minutes?

We have now determined that the world will not end if you take your beautiful 10-30-40 minutes to deepen your personal practice. Now the next step is to choose a day, two days (every day, depending on your Intention) to be your "Personal Practice Adventure" day(s). Choosing certain days for your Adventure will allow you to plan in advance, mentally and with your every day routines. You will be able to ask for help from loved ones and partners when it comes to preparing supper, watching the children or simply giving you some space.

Another option is to take two minutes to look over your week and choose the best day(s) to practice, marking them on your calender (PPA DAY!). I'll be the first to admit that I am NOT a planning person and would much rather just be all willy-nilly with stuff. However, I have found over the years of helping parents add practice time, that planning just works better in this case. As much as it goes "against" my spontaneous-yoga grain, deepening my practice is worth a slight sucking-it-up-ness.

I'm going to choose the latter, as I sometimes need to do workshops in the evenings and finding cheap or free yoga classes is going to require flexibility. This week I have chosen Wednesday as being my solitary yoga practice day.

The next step- time of day.
Ideally, the easiest part of the day by far to add something would be first thing in the morning. There are no meals to help prepare, you're not tired from a full day of work and it's usually quieter. If you'd like to try to add meditation to your daily practice, perhaps waking up 15 minutes earlier each morning would work easily for you.

Honestly, I am definitely NOT a morning-yoga yogini. Yoga is difficult on my bendiest days (re: days I can touch my toes without warming up) and trying to enjoy any amount of practice with a stiff, sleepy body is unpleasant to say the least. I can barely bring myself to attend the free Lulu morning classes and our Guerrilla yoga has always been 10 or 11am in the morning, which I still find challenging. Also, I seriously require at least 10 hours of sleep to feel rested... which I only get on the weekends and as a result I am NOT a morning person. I am hoping that one I decide to create babies that my hormonal situation will magically change....

Therefore, evening Solitary practice it is. Which makes it a bit more challenging. Eating is the big obstacle to evening yoga, as we should only practice two hours after we've eaten. As I'm not a later in the evening Yogini, I need to eat a good snack around 3:30pm the afternoon of my practice. Which is why choosing my day is essential. This works well for us as Andrew only gets home at 7pm or afterwards, which is when we'd be eating supper anyway.

Perhaps you'd also like to practice pre-supper but you have a partner and/or children who are home at that time. This may require an honest conversation about how important this practice is for you and kindly asking them to support a later supper once/twice a week with some help making a snack for the kids. If you're an awesome planner (which I am not) you could even have some frozen leftovers all ready to go for those days to help smooth over the transition.

Another option would be to practice after supper. This of course, would depend on whether you have children or not- as I know that there is a certain bedtime routine that takes some time. As our personal practice adventure will be something beautifully self-sacred and considered "me time" then what better way to spend an hour you would have previously been watching TV, scrolling on the internet (checking blogs!) or... gasp... cleaning.

Just remember that when other thoughts pop up telling you all the things you "have to" or "should be" doing at that moment, to remind yourself that the world will not end should the dishes go undone, should the floor not be swept, if you don't check your emails, if you ask your partner to pack a lunch. Realistically examine what would happen should you not do them and let go of the guilt. We've determined that our Personal Practice is an Adventure on nurturing our sacred selves, which in turns nurtures and benefits our lives, our families and our loved ones. :)

What time strategies will you use on your Adventure? If you feel stuck- leave a comment and we'll try to brainstorm a strategy that works for YOU together :)


  1. I was doing great--had a nice little practice spot cleared in the basement. And then our hot water heater burst yesterday! Luckily the basement is fine, but my sweet little yoga sanctuary is all cluttered up again with laundry room junk that needed to be moved so the new heater could be installed. Oh well, goes to show me that I shouldn't be attached to where I practice!

  2. Ohhh, pooo water heater bursting!! that sucks.
    i'm sorry to hear about your sanctuary! you are right though, there are so many places where we can practice asana, I've even practiced in my mom's computer room, pushed the chairs out of the way. As long as you have room for your mat- you have space (which we'll chat about next monday) :)

    Also- when your heater is fixed and stuff gets re-arranged you will have your beautiful yoga sanctuary back- so just a temporary change! :)

  3. Though I'm not a morning person -at all- (like you, I need 9 or 10 hours of sleep to feel refreshed, which happens only on the weekends), I have found morning practice to a gentle and pleasing way to wake up, as well as the most effective way to practice consistently. If I move directly from the bed to the mat (via the bathroom, of course), there is no time for the chatter in my head to start and no time for distractions to pile up... and there's almost no choice involved, because I am so sleepy, I am moving on auto-pilot. :) I do a few over all stretches, and some cat/ cows before moving into slow Sun Salutations. By the time I'm done, I'm fully awake - mentally as well as physically - and can find my way to the coffee maker :)

  4. I have tried meditating in the morning, and even when I do manage to get up 15 minutes earlier, I am generally spending my meditation time trying not to fall back asleep again. Meditating before bed works best for me, provided I don't leave it too late - (i.e, after 10 pm) So I am going to do it at 9:30 and that should be just right!

  5. Such a great reminder. REALISTIC is the key for me — what's one step ahead of where I am now? Right now I'm working on 30 minutes of meditation each morning. That's actually the time of greatest anxiety for me, so it helps to head it off at the pass.

    The poses are secondary for now, I've always liked evening practices but I have an inner/outer imbalance in my knee that's knocked me off my routine (can't run to the park anymore). So I'm trying to get inspired for home practice again, carving out two nights a week to hit the mat and explore.

  6. Doing great so far! Although today, I realized it is Tuesday and I haven't done my practice yet! I'm thinking restorative yoga tonight. I desperately need quiet yoga. Sometimes, I push myself way too hard in my practice, and I know I am not physically strong enough to do my usual routine today. I'm too tired!

    Theresa, meditating in the morning doesn't work for me either, for the same reasons. I've been trying to do five minutes before bed. It is crazy how hard five minutes can be!

    One Barefoot Bride: I'm going to try doing some stretches in the morning. I ALMOST did today...but talked myself out of it! :(

  7. Great post. I had the same realization about time--but how it applied to doing basic things like talking to my roommates. It is so much better to realize your capacity to be available.


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