The Yoga Habit ~ 30 Day Yoga Challenge

“This practice becomes firmly rooted when it is cultivated skillfully and continuously for a long time.” – The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali 1:14

If you’re anything like me, then you may have noticed that the intensity of your yoga practice surges at times and then peters out at times.  You practice regularly for a week or two, and then nothing.   You move on to something else for a while and then realize one day that you haven’t seen your yoga mat for a month.  It’s a strong likelihood that this pattern of inconsistency affects not only your yoga practice, but other aspects in your life.  It’s human nature.  While this pattern is certainly natural, for many people it becomes a habit that hinders them from taking their performance and skill in any activity to the next level.  For most people, myself included, it’s not that they one day decide they don’t enjoy yoga practice, it’s just that they have not taken the necessary steps to develop the yoga habit.

Habits

“It seems, in fact, as though the second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has accumulated during the first half.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Habits are powerful, unconscious patterns of behavior that once formed, play a large role in influencing the direction of one’s life.  To a certain degree, our lives go where our habits take us.  Our bodies, the vehicle; our habits, the chauffeur.

How to Form a Habit. Habits can be both good and bad, and interestingly enough, creating a good habit pretty much involves the same process as making a bad habit.  Without delving into neurological explanations for habit formation (check out Scott Young’s great explanation here), the bottom line is that habits form through REPETITION. The philosopher Aristotle nailed it on the head: “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

To form a habit, all you need to do is repeat the activity over a period of time.  Opinions vary on the length of time it takes to form a habit, but most agree that it takes anywhere from three to six weeks of conscious, consistent, repetitive, and focused behavior to develop a new good habit.  It’s not always easy, but the end results are almost always worth it.

The Yoga Habit ~ 30 Day Yoga Challenge

If you want to consistently enjoy the benefits of yoga, then you need to take the steps necessary to make it a habit.  One of the best ways to develop the yoga habit is to commit to a 30 day yoga challenge.  

30 Day Yoga Challenge.   The heart of the 30 day challenge is commitment.  It means making a promise to yourself and following through on it.   It means banishing from your life all your old wimpy excuses for failure.  It means promising to practice for a certain amount of time each day and just doing it.  If you commit to 15 minutes a day, then you practice for 15 minutes every day.  If you commit to an hour each day, then you practice for an hour.  Don’t set unrealistic expectations, but commit to a goal that pushes you.  Whatever you commit to, do it for 30 days and you will drastically improve your chances of turning your yoga practice into a habit.

Here are a few suggestions for succeeding in creating a yoga habit.

1.  Make yourself accountable. Another aspect of commitment is accountability.  Write down your goal and/or tell someone about your plans.    Memorializing the commitment on paper or telling a friend helps set it deep into your mind that you will practice yoga for 30 days in a row.  Make yourself accountable to prove that you can do anything you set your mind to.

2.  Prioritize your life. If a 30 day yoga challenge is something you want to commit to, then make it a priority.   Use these 30 days to simplify and streamline your life.  Examine your current daily routine and activities and determine what really needs to stay and what needs to get the axe.   Maybe that means watching less TV or cutting back on social web surfing so you have time to dedicate to your practice.  Most people have plenty of time, they just don’t use it well.  Depending on how high the yoga challenge ranks in your priorities, you may also decide to temporarily give up otherwise worthwhile activities to create the necessary time.  Chances are if you cut something out of your life, you won’t even notice it’s gone in a month.

3.  Set a time and have a practice plan. A lot of our daily routine, i.e. when, where, and how we do things, is determined by our habits.  Since you’re trying to make yoga a habit, figure out the best time in the day and place for you to get on your yoga mat.  Morning or night doesn’t matter so much as picking a time and then sticking to it as best as possible.   Maybe there are certain yoga classes you want to attend.  Plan for it.  Remember, you’re trying to form a habit, and consistency will help with that.  Not many people can make it to the yoga studio for 30 days in a row, so you will also have a chance to work on your home practice.  For many people,  myself included, home practice is the only option available.  My advice is to go to bed a little earlier so you can practice in the quiet of the morning before the world wakes up.  However, when setting your schedule, also allow for some flexibility.  Life would be boring if there weren’t any surprises.  If you know your regular practice time won’t work one day,  or something unexpected pops up, have a backup plan in place already so you’re not tempted to skip a day.

4.  Educate yourself. This is also a very important step in maintaining your motivation throughout the 30 day yoga challenge.  Spend some time at the bookstore or library and browse through the yoga section.   If you see a book that interests you, buy it; you’ll probably never be more deserving of a purchase for yourself.   Throughout the month, turn to your yoga library and other yoga-related magazines, DVDs, and websites to increase your understanding of whatever aspect of yoga interests you, be it asana sequences, philosophy, history, whatever.

Here are a few good places to start:

5.  Write about it. Keep track of your 30 day yoga challenge by writing about it in your journal or blog.  If nothing else, at least have a calendar to mark off each day that you practice.  Nobody wants to have an empty square on their 30 day yoga challenge calendar.  If you need some extra inspiration, check out my all-time favorite calendar here!

If you do  decide to write about your 30 day yoga challenge, let us know so we can cheer you on!

Just Do It!

Completing your own 30 day yoga challenge will require discipline, commitment, focus, and sacrifice.  It won’t guarantee that you have a yoga habit for life – you can fall out of good habits just as easily as you fall into bad ones – but it will be a step in the right direction.   So take the leap, start a 30 day yoga challenge, and enjoy the journey of a daily yoga habit.

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Comments

  1. Please sign me up for daily emails if you have it.

  2. Thanks for linking to my site! I am yoga teacher and can honestly say that nothing is more important to your practice (and well-being) than committing to a daily practice, even if that means practicing for shorter duration…but more frequently.

    …and when I say “daily”…I also mean that days off are important…but they should be deliberately used as rest and not just as excuses to not practice :)

  3. this is great with great advice.. thanks for the mention I really appreciate it.

    best to you,
    Hillary

  4. I’m at Day 16 in my yoga challenge. While I’ve practiced since I was 19 ys old, I too have found myself going thru my closet looking for my (brushed aside) yoga mat. It seemed that no matter how good my intentions were I never mustered up the discipline to make yoga an actual part of my everyday life. I’m doing Power Yoga 1 hr a day. The first week found my thoughts racing for any reason to get out of a pose and do some mindless chore around my house. It seemed that I searched for any reason to quit. However thru persistence and following the suggestions above, I am successfully carving out time in my day (I have a demanding 2ys old) to grab my mat and run to a corner in my house with nothing but my laptop and dvd and immerse myself in total concentration of what is going on at that moment. The voice in my head still bucks in the beginning, but after a couple minutes of breathing it’s replaced with a kind of grateful appreciation for my dedication to my mind and body. As a self proclaimed “Queen” of excuses and procrastination, I am determined to shed that cloak of identification and replace it with a new habit that actually benefits myself and those around me.

  5. Yoga can help you live longer, become healthy, charming and increases the stamina or energy level. By recognizing the importance of yoga, you will be able to prioritize it just like your work, fun time, and family moments.

  6. Thank you for making the honest effort to speak about this. I think very strong about it and want to learn more. If it’s OK, as you achieve more in depth wisdom, could you mind adding more articles similar to this one with more information? It could be extraordinarily helpful and useful for me and my friends.

  7. Anyone that practices yoga will truly benefit from doing a 30 day yoga challenge. You do give comprehensive guidelines on how to keep on track and very helpful links. I do agree with what you said about habits. Practicing yoga on a daily basis will help the person become quite skillful in a shorter period of time.

  8. very good submit, i actually love this web site, carry on it

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  10. Beginners of Yoga will find almost immediate benefit and these are often found within the first two weeks or even less – most people are surprised by the quick results they achieve. Yoga is great for all ages, shapes and sizes!

  11. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  12. within how many days we can see its effects?

  13. Thank you so much for this- such a useful article. I’m considering do the 30 Day Challenge soon and feel relieved at reading the excellent advice here. Might just go for it!

    Thank you,
    Katie
    (www.conqueringfearspiritually.com)

  14. Great challenge. And the principles which are presented can be applied to so many other important things in life. Nothing precious comes without investing time, work and efforts. Same goes for Yoga. Thanks for sharing

  15. Tiffany says:

    I decided to do a 30-day yoga challenge for the month of March. I’ve just joined a new yoga studio in my neighborhood and have managed to attend class every day of March thus far! I’m feeling great and look forward to yoga class every day.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] this same time last year I was living in a Middle Eastern country when I decided to start up a 30 day yoga challenge. It worked really well and I think I did yoga basically every single day for nearly three months. [...]

  2. [...] this same time last year I was living in a Middle Eastern country when I decided to start up a 30 day yoga challenge. It worked really well and I think I did yoga basically every single day for nearly three months. [...]

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