Willing Your Home Practice - with a musical Prelude

Even though I love practicing and teaching yoga, I still have moments of resistance when I know its time to breathe through some postures at home. But honestly, I just don't want to sometimes.

Why is that? Why do we sometimes resist what is best for us? And it's not just in yoga. We know we need to do some cardio, resistance training, get more sleep, drink water, chop fresh vegetables, meditate, and develop healthy social connections. All of these things require time and commitment and must be done as an alternative to other activities we might already be enjoying - and that may be why we can be guilty of resisting them too.

We seem to have a tendency to resist the change from one activity to another, and we can demonstrate this from an early age. When my boys were younger, we spent a lot of time at the apartment pool. We had swim races, splash contests, and I got to see how high I could toss them in the air, and into the pool. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun, but there inevitably came a time when we had to get going and tend to something else that needed to be done. When I told them it was time to leave, I would always get pushback. "Daaad, we want to stay and play longer, " they would say. But of course they couldn't. Pool rules said they needed an adult supervisor, and I was leaving. I would eventually win the battle of wills and get them toweled off and in tow back to our apartment. This got me thinking: what if it's not the getting out of the pool that they're resisting, but rather the abruptness of the change from swimming to leaving? What if all they need is a heads up and I could just say "boys, we'll be leaving to head home in 10 minutes?" The heads up worked, and they were able to savor those last few moments of swimming before moving on.

I still mimic this heads up technique to this day - but this time on my self and for the purposes of practicing more at home. One of my favorite ways to empower my willpower into a home practice is to play 2-3 of my absolute favorite songs while I set up.  I intentionally structure the music to progress (or digress) from the most upbeat song to more and more calmer songs so my mood can shift accordingly.   For some of my favorite examples, listen to the first few songs of my 8Tracks yoga playlists.  


Because I know that going straight to practice can be hard sometimes, I also know that pushing play on a playlist is easy. But when I push play, I am essentially telling myself, "John, your practice begins in ~10 minutes."  I don't want to abruptly change tasks. I respectfully give myself a little time to complete what I was doing and transition into my yoga practice with a better attitude than I might have otherwise.

~I don't want to abruptly change tasks. I respectfully give myself a little time to complete what I was doing and transition into my yoga practice with a better attitude than I might have otherwise.~

During this transitional time, I can use the restroom, blow my nose, get my water or tea, diffuse some essential oils, and set up my mat and props. During setup, I try to enjoy what I'm doing as much as possible - so I take my time and I often sing along to the music. This helps me to develop a "Pavlovian dog" association between my setting-up and the abundant rewards of my practice. This way I get excited to set-up and transition from what I was doing -  and thus become more inclined to practice once I've gone through all the trouble. More practice means more yoga. More yoga means more health and more peace. Give this technique a try and see how it goes. 

For further reading on the topic of yoga at home,  I can recommend Jason Crandell's articles on Starting and Sequencing your home practice.