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Unrolling the Mat: tips to start, re-start, and maintain a consistent yoga practice

“I still haven’t gotten back into my routine since COVID,” one of my yoga students was telling me before class.


FYI, this was said to me in 2023, 3 years after the world shut down.


I know creating a yoga practice that works for you can be difficult because

  1. People tell me about it all the time. It’s of the things I help them with, and I’ve seen the struggles from all sorts of different angles.

  2. I struggle with it myself!

Case in point?


It took me 6 months to get through the material for an online yoga for female hormones training. It’s completely doable in 1 month, but I kept pushing the 2 hour long practices off for “later”.


Here are some things that help my students and me get back to practice after something like traveling or the pandemic throws it off. This can work if you’re wanting to start a new yoga practice too!


Jessica Lucey and Tom in warrior 2 pose

Know why you want to start a yoga practice


First things first, you gotta know why you want to practice. Maybe you want to be more flexible, have less pain in your body, or be more relaxed.


Those are all great reasons, but…


What is the deeper reason behind that?

  • Do you want to be more flexible so you can get up and down from the floor and retrieve your grandkids from all the weird places they find themselves in while playing hide and seek?

  • Do you want to have less pain in your body so you can go on vacation without having to worry about all the different medications you need to bring with you?

  • Do you want to be more relaxed so you can get some sleep and be the calm center in your family as you care for your aging mother?

Whatever your deeper why is, connect to it. That is one thing that’ll help you maintain your practice when life begins to throw curve balls at you.


Make the criteria for “what counts” something easy so you can start


This might be hard if you’re the type of person who’s a recovering perfectionist (myself included 🙋🏽‍♀️), but something is better than nothing.


You don’t have to practice yoga for 2 hours each day for it to have a meaningful affect on your life. You could have a 5-15 minute practice each day and still benefit. What we’re looking for is consistency. A daily 5 minute practice is better than doing 1 hr sporadically through the month. You’re not only building the habit of practicing, which you can build on in the future, you’re also changing your brain.


You want to make your practice something easy that you can repeat and feel good about.


Making the criteria for what counts as practice something hard will make it, well, harder for you to complete. It might even cause you to not attempt practicing at all because you’re in the mindset of, “what’s the point of starting if you can’t finish?”


Thinking I had to do the entire 2 hour practice at once is the big thing that kept me from completing my training.


I would say I didn’t have time or I couldn’t fit it into my schedule. Or if I did have time, I would just be too tired to get in front of a computer screen for 2 hours.


I didn’t start making progress until I allowed myself to break up those long practices into chunks of 30 minutes, something I knew I was more than capable of completing because that’s how long I practice on the regular.


What counts for your yoga practice might be one of these things:

  • notice how you feel when you get up and ask yourself what you need

  • toll out your yoga mat at home and stand on it for 5 breaths

  • take 5 minutes out of your day to breathe

  • move for 15 minutes a day

  • regularly attend a private or group class once a week (this also utilizes another tip that I mention later)


young woman meditating on a couch

Give yourself permission to have your practice change so you can keep going


As you continue with your practice, remember that you have different seasons in your life. What worked when you first started on this journey might not be the same later on.


Case in point?


The lifestyle and commitments you have now are different than the lifestyle and commitments you had in your 20s.


Your practice is meant to support you. Allow your practice to change as your energy, mood, or body change.


This is especially true if you’re someone who has a period or is going through your menopause transition. Your hormones are either fluctuating with you’re cycle, or you’re transitioning to what life feels like as your ovaries produce less estrogen. While this can be frustrating, it can also be an opportunity to be more adaptable and connect to what you truly need instead of moving on autopilot to a routine that no longer serves.


This means you might not do the same thing from season to season, month to month, or day to day. You might be totally wiped from a long day and your regular 15 minute vinyasa flow might be a 5 minute shavasana.


That’s ok.


It’s why I start every class asking 2 questions to help with deciding what to practice:

  1. Where is your energy level on a scale of 1-10?

  2. Is there anything specific you want to work on?

Lots of my private yoga students like having a list of poses they can do for their home practice. Over their time with me, they can leave with the following depending on what their capacity is:

  • a single thing to work into their day or an already established practice

  • a busy days practice that they can do in 15 minutes or less

  • a practice that’s 20-30 minutes

  • practices that are specific for after their training days or outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or skiing.

In all cases, the practice is tailored to them.



older woman with white hair stretching


Utilize supportive people and appointments to help you practice through the hard times


Humans are social creatures, even if you’re an introvert. We have universal behavioral triggers that influence how we get things done. Having supportive people and baking in accountability by using appointments is super helpful.


Have a success pack


This term comes from Charlie Gilkey, author and executive coach. He teaches that a success pack is made of 4 types of people: guides, peers, supporters, and beneficiaries.


Let them know that you want their help so they can help you.


Guides are people you look up to that have walked the path before you. This could be a mentor, a fellow student that has practiced for longer than you, or a teacher. You can tap into their knowledge and experience to help get you un-stuck or see their journey as inspiration.


Peers are people at around the same level of accomplishment as you that can regularly help you. This could be the other newbie in the group class you just started going to or a friend that practices with you at home or in a class.


Supporters help you practice. This could be a partner that makes dinner so you don’t have to worry about it after attending an evening class, the teen that provides child care while you practice, someone who helps you pay for class, or someone else.


Beneficiaries are the real people that will benefit from the act of you practicing. Maybe it’s your grandkid you’re able to play with because you’re not afraid of falling as you cross the log bridge with them. Your coworker you’re always a little short with might benefit because you have more patience to teach them or communicate expectations.


Remember, your success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Other people want you to succeed in your commitment to practice too.



two women sitting on yoga mats smiling at each other


Make an appointment


This utilizes the behavior of precommitment: making a commitment to a task or goal in advance of the time when the steps toward that commitment will have to be carried out.


Here are some appointments that might be helpful

  • Sign up for private yoga or a group class. That way you know you’re going to practice and someone is expecting you to show up.

  • Check in with a friend or mentor on a specified date and let them know how you’re progressing. Sometimes, simply knowing that you’re going to have to share what you’ve done is enough to get you to do the thing.

  • Schedule a Focusmate session for you to practice at home. It’s like digital co-working where you and your partner show up and complete something you care about over a 25, 50, or 75 minute time period. They could be studying for an exam and you could be practicing. It’s win-win!

That last one is the biggest thing that helped me complete the super long practices in my yoga for female hormones training.


Celebrate your wins


So many people celebrate when they’ve reached a big milestone like practicing for a year, but I encourage you to celebrate before that… way before that.

  • Celebrate when you first come to practice.

  • Celebrate when you’re done with practice.

  • Celebrate when you showed up even though you didn’t want to.

  • Celebrate progress.

  • Celebrate when you’ve reached your big goal.

The more you enjoy what you do and acknowledge the positive changes that happen — more flexibility, a clearer mind, less cramping — the more likely you’re going to continue practicing and support your why.

 

Share in the comments a tip you’re going to try out to help you start or maintain your yoga practice.


If you’d like more help with creating a consistent yoga practice, I can be your guide. I work with people 1 on 1 to create practices and routines that fit their lifestyle and support their why. Set up a call with me to see if we’d be a good fit.


Jessica Lucey smiling and standing with a yoga block in her hands.

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