In my 25th year of regular yoga practice I have been reflecting on what it is that still get’s me on to the yoga mat daily. The beginning of the year is when we take stock, aiming to let go of habits which don’t serve us, and taking on or refreshing others, which will help us grow. But where can we turn to when things seem a bit dull and we find it hard to get motivated.

Yoga attracts people from all walks of life, and what brings us all together as a community is the recognition that there is a spark deep within us, which seems to be the same for each and every one of us. We form an attachment to the ever-growing feeling of contentment, happiness, and even the bliss we can experience through practicing yoga.

As with every spiritual practice, being part of a community is reassuring and greatly supportive of our practice. We share an interest, and we feel more normal about getting up in the wee hours of the day! I am sure in the past you would also have received that look of disbelief when you tell someone that you rise at 4am.

Most convincing of all is the fact that many around us experience trouble with their wellbeing, may it be physical, emotional or mental. When practicing yoga you are much less prone to sickness, and if you fall ill your recovery is so much speedier than for the average person. I am still amazed at how quickly I have recovered from the recent knee surgery I had for my torn meniscus. I have had to par back my practice, but this has given me a new appreciation of the primary series with its many leg strengthening postures, forward bends, and plenty of hip openers. Your hip and knee joints, which are closely related, are challenged in a wide range of motion, which greatly supports the healing process. Getting well in that respect certainly is a great motivator for the practice during the time of recovery.

If you feel a bit sluggish or lazy, remind yourself of past practice experiences; how well yoga made you feel, how light and happy you walked away from your yoga mat, and how many times after a practice you thought how greatly rewarding it was! Then don’t think any further, just do it!

Another draw card is your favourite pose. Imagine yourself practicing the posture you most enjoy, ‘feel it’. Sometimes you can allow yourself to do only a short sequence of asanas – including your favourite posture of course – this will keep you in touch with yoga; and that familiarity is more readily available to you next time you plan to get onto the mat.

Rather practice many times for a short time, than doing a long practice once in a while.

Sometimes I feel tempted to skip a practice because there is so much other work to do, and time seems so scarce. Whenever I gave in to this urge I regretted it, because it became apparent to me how ineffective I managed many of the projects I had set myself to do. This is another beautiful experience; yoga enhances your focus, mental agility, gives greater discernment, and you become an efficient worker with both mental and physical strength and flexibility. A wonderful sensitivity ensues with which we tend to be able to communicate with others more harmoniously, amongst other benefits.

When I look deeply as to why over all the years I have kept up such a regular practice, I feel that it is the only way to truly experience myself, to come closer and closer to my essence. It’s like a nectar, which increases in sweetness over time, and you’d like to taste more of it. There is a great sense that there is something very beautiful at the core of our being, something very truthful, pure and innocent. There is a compulsion to keep on peeling away some of the layers of our ‘conditioned existence’, to come closer to experiencing our true Self. The elation connected with this makes it more than worth overcoming the then seemingly minor obstacles.

Keep on practicing!

OM Shanti,