There are endless benefits to developing a daily yoga or spiritual practice. Many people know these benefits and want to create a daily practice, but perhaps don’t know what to do, how to do it, or how to maintain a daily practice long term. "This is a common challenge I hear from students," says Britney Stables of Bindi Yoga, "and one that I myself have experienced through years of practice. In yoga, we call our daily yoga or spiritual practice, sadhana". Britney gives us her insights on how to develop a daily yoga practice, how to troubleshoot your practice and provides a Sadhana practice suitable for beginners so that we can begin right away.
How to Develop a Daily Yoga Practice
Here are four ways to overcome challenges on the path of sadhana so you can develop a daily practice and experience greater degrees of love, freedom, peace, and bliss in your life.
1. Take the conditions out of your practice
Sometimes, we are perfectionists in life and how we approach our practice is no different. We think that in order to be a yogi or develop a sadhana, we must have several hours a day, be stress free with little or no responsibility, endless energy, and have a tranquil, well decorated yoga room dedicated to practice. We place so much emphasis on perfection that we may fluctuate between practicing intensely for a short period of time, to then not practicing at all for a few days, weeks or months.
2. Make yoga your path
Transform your practice into your path. Make yoga your way of life. Invite mindfulness, peace, and breath into all that you do and even the most mundane of tasks become sacred acts of devotion and union, which is the meaning of the word yoga in Sanskrit. While asana, the physical poses of yoga, and meditation are important and valuable pieces of the yoga puzzle, there is more to yoga than these alone. In Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga in the Yoga Sutras, the two founding limbs of yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas, are a code of morals and ethics which allow us to interact peacefully with the outer world, and with our inner experience. The Yamas teach us a path of non-violence, honesty, non-stealing, moderation, and non-attachment. The Niyamas encourage us to live a life of purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender. As Dharma Mittra says, “no Yama, no yoga.” If all you do is practice non-violence, ahimsa, the first of the Yamas as your spiritual practice— you are already a great yogi.
Transform your practice from an act of discipline into an act of devotion and your practice becomes an empowering, sacred infinite opportunity and choice to connect with yourself, and unite with Divinity.
3. Create ease in your practice
Life, yoga and meditation can be challenging enough, no need to make things harder than they need to be. The practice of yoga is powerful, but subtle. Give yourself the permission to be gentle with yourself and your practice. When we push ourselves too hard with our practice, we may exhaust ourselves and then feel resistance to practicing. Practice as much as possible— but consistent, shorter, more frequent practices will benefit you more than longer, more intense practices done less frequently.
Create a practice that is simple, peaceful and that you enjoy doing and you may feel more drawn to practicing regularly. If slowing down your practice helps—do it. If using props or sitting in a chair while you meditate allows you to feel more comfortable—allow it to be. If doing less yoga postures and more meditation, chanting, or breathing exercises feels good— do this. If you prefer meditating in the morning/evening/before/after asana, yoga postures— do as you wish.
4. Develop a ritual
As much as possible, try to create a daily routine – or better yet, make it a ritual. Sculpt out time every day to practice, even if it’s only five or ten minutes. And as best as you can, try to make it consistent. Developing a routine time to practice gives instructions to your subconscious and may allow you to go deeper with practice. Here are 11 ways you can get motivated to start yoga.
Explore the infinity of yoga — There is an infinite depth to yoga that extends far beyond the physical postures. Yoga is the Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical and more code of yoga, yoga is Bhakthi— a path of love and devotion, Karma— a path of selfless service, Raja— a path of self-discipline, and Jnana— a path of self-inquiry and realization. Yoga is chanting mantra, meditation, prayer, pranayama, mindfulness, and union.
Having a sadhana sequence that you follow is very helpful in creating a routine. Through practice, your subconscious will begin to memorize what your practice guides you to find within yourself and you will be able to reveal it with more ease, depth and clarity.
Consistency is key. You will benefit more from shorter, more frequent practices, than longer and more intense sessions practiced less frequently.
Troubleshooting your daily yoga practice
- “I don’t have time to practice.” | Do what you can, 5 or 10 minutes is enough.
- “My house is too messy.” | Clean it up or don’t worry about it. Yoga is a practice of our inner experience, so the outer world isn’t too important for the practice.
- “I’m too busy.” | Do your best to carve out time to practice. And practice mindfulness as you go through your busy day.
- “I don’t have enough money to go to a class.” | Develop a home practice for free.
- “I don’t know what to do.” | Go to a class at your local studio or do a free online yoga video or guided meditation.
- “I’m too tired or lazy to practice.” | Great, honor how you feel, and try a more gently practice like yin yoga, restorative yoga, yoga nidra or meditate to restore you. You may feel more energized after!
- “I prefer to practice in the morning/evening and I was busy during that time.” | Creating a routine is valuable, but it’s important to also be flexible with your practice. Practicing at a different time of the day is better than not practicing at all.
Sadhana for Beginners
Here is a beginner-friendly Sadhana practice that you may practice every day. Modify it as you wish and for what your schedule allows to make it your own.
Create space - Enter the Practice
- Set up/clean altar.
- Light candle and incense.
- Get mat and props for meditation and asana.
- Come into meditation seat. Ground, centre, withdraw inwardly (Pratyahara).
- Open practice with Om x 3 and set your intention (Sankalpa).
- Say Prayer, feelings of gratitude.
- Hands in Chin Mudra: palms facing up in lap with the thumbs and index finger connected.
- Pranayama: Watch the breath with Ujjayi Pranayama and Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.
Concentration - Meditation
- Gaze (Drishti): navel, heart, space between the eyebrows.
- Watch the gap between the breaths.
- Mantra repetition: Om Namah Shivaya, Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.
- Steep in the bliss of simply being.
Yoga Postures (Asana) - Preferred Poses of the Day
- Ground, centre and repeat your intention.
- Standing, strengthening and balancing poses.
- Core work and inversions.
- Backbending, hip openers and twists.
Return - Close Practice
- Om x 3.
- Restate intention.
Creating a daily yoga and spiritual practice is one of the greatest gifts you can offer yourself to experience greater degrees of peace, freedom, love, bliss and truth in your life. Take the conditions out of your practice, make your yoga your path, create a practice you love to do, and make a daily ritual of if. Begin your daily practice today!
Britney Stables (Bindi Yoga) is an internationally celebrated yoga and meditation teacher, facilitating yoga classes, workshops and retreats around the world, and offering online yoga videos and resources, she is committed to teaching yoga as a lifestyle and path to Bliss in the body, mind and spirit. More info available on Britney's website and Facebook. Britney is also a part of the group of lovely yogis at Blooming Lotus offering yoga retreats and yoga teacher training courses based in Bali.
Do you have a daily yoga practice that works for you that you'd like to share with others? We'd love to hear from you!