Tips for Staying Motivated

Uncategorized Jun 26, 2020

My practice buddies: Paul and Hampi. Note, Hampi is only here for the savasana.

There’s a question I’ve gotten a lot over the years, and I’ve gotten it a lot more over the last few months: How do I stay motivated? It can be hard to stay motivated in any practice and under any circumstances, but it’s become that much more of a challenge recently with the adjustments we’ve all needed to make to adapt to quarantine. I'm here to tell you that there are a lot of mornings when I wake up and I would rather roll back over and fall asleep than get on my mat and practice. It's not always pretty, I don't always want to, and it doesn't even feel good sometimes. My point is, practice is hard. Staying motivated it hard. Here's what helps me.

  • One little thing I make a point of doing is saying the opening prayer out loud instead of saying it in my head. It sets a tone for my practice. It makes what I'm doing feel like yoga and it makes me feel more connected to well, everything.  Chanting makes it that much easier to feel like you’re really in your practice right from the start.
  • Motivation truly is all about attitude and perspective, and those are things that are totally in your control. In a time where we’re often seeing how little control we have over things, it’s huge to realize that we have total control over our perspective. So, when you’re struggling with motivation, it can be helpful to remind yourself not that you have to practice, but that you get to practice. Remind yourself that this is something you love in the first place, and the whole thing will be that much easier. If you can think of your practice as a place of solace in your life, as something you’re looking forward to, it’ll be so much easier to find your motivation. Remember, you GET to do this!
  • Sometimes I make a little deal with myself like just do standing and a few minutes of Pilates and call it a practice. And sometimes that really is all I do. But often times once I start moving a breathing, I realize that it feels pretty good and I actually really want to practice.
  • Another tool I find helpful is to give myself the challenge of doing practice and sticking to the vinyasa. When used correctly, vinyasa can prevent distraction and help you finish practice in the shortest possible time.
  • I find that doing a led recording can be really helpful when I am lacking motivation. It challenges me to listen to the class and to follow someone else's count and this combination keeps me more focused on the practice.

I like to teach from the sutras when I can, and I think that this sutra is helpful when you are lacking motivation to practice. I refer to Sutra 1.20. It says śraddhā smṛti samādhi prajñā pūrvaka itareṣām

There are two types of samādhi. One is samprajna samādhi, which refers to people who exist in a natural state of nirodha and a natural yogic state of existence. That’s not me, and that’s frankly not most of us! Most of us fall under the category of itareṣām - it’s a word that differentiates the rest of us from the sutras that came before 1.20, and really does just mean the others, as in “the rest of us.” So what is this distinction setting up? It’s telling us who the sutra is for, and if the sutra is for you then this sutra is telling you what you need.

With that in mind, the sutra roughly translates to say that, for the “rest of us”, a clear understanding (prajñā) requires faith and conviction (śraddhā), soul energy and strength in practice (vīrya), and memory (smṛti).

Śraddhā is a faith in knowing, and an embodied belief in what you’re doing. Vīrya means that your practice should be vital. I always look at vīrya as being the type of enthusiasm I was talking about earlier, because it’s all about bringing all of your energetic self into your practice and into your life. Smṛti is memory, but it’s a special kind of memory - it’s memory that helps us grow; it’s learning from our mistakes and our successes. When I talk about smṛti, I like to think of it as looking at past successes as rehearsals for the present moment.

When you faced challenges in the past, like challenges you may be facing today, you got over them somehow. You’re here now. This is one more moment to look back on as a challenge you turned into a success. Even if you don’t know how yet, you know from memory that you’ve got it in you.

Bring your faith. Bring your enthusiasm. Bring your memory. Bring the lesson of this sutra to your mat and you’ll realize you can take on any challenge in your practice; take it off the mat and you’ll realize you can take on any challenge in your life.

You got this!


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