For almost everybody, in the beginning and even beyond, maintaining a regular personal practices is one of the most challenging things. Also for me. After practicing on and off for years, my Sādhana suddenly became stronger. To be honest, I still don't know exactly why. I turned 30 and was not practicing for a while. One morning I started to follow a YouTube Yoga Video and I really liked it. Step by step I felt the difference in my body after the practice I did in the morning. I was thinking about that the other day and I would like to share a few side facts, apart from my suddenly awakened enthusiasm, that helped me to maintain my practice.
Beside a few things I am going to explain below, what really made me going on with my practice was finding a tradition I liked. Sivananda Yoga. In the section about Yoga, you can read more about it.
That does not mean, that in your case it also must be Sivananda Yoga. Each person is different and in the beginning it is good to try different things. You have to get to know a tradition, the teachers and teachings and you also have to watch how your body and mind are reacting to it.
Sometimes after trying a new practice for a few times, it might seem like it fits, but personally I think it takes a while, at least a few weeks, to find out if a practice is suitable for you and your constitution and if you feel comfortable with it. So if you are still searching for Your Practice, choose one and stick to it for at least one month or two, so you can really observe how your body and mind are feeling after practicing it regularly. Also a consultation with an ayurvedic practitioner can help to find out what is good for you. You will learn about your body-mind constitution (doshas) and based on that the practitioner will recommend a particular practice for you.
Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences. They go hand in hand. Ayurveda uses Yoga to bring body and mind into balance - and in the end, this is what we are looking for as a first step in our practice.
Now - once you have found your tradition (nowadays you will often find the word Yogastyle) , your teacher, your practice - the question is, how can you maintain a regular and stable Sādhana ?
There are a few things that, for sure, will help you:
1. The Time
Either early in the morning, during the day or in the evening after all the work is done. It does not matter when you do it. Just do it! Keep a rhythm (three times a week, every second day or even every day) and make appointments with yourself. Like having a date with a beloved friend. You wouldn't be late for that, right? Put your personal Yoga appointment into your calendar, like you would write down any other appointment you usually have with your boss, colleges or friends.
2. The Space
Some people prefer practicing in a studio. Especially in the beginning it is easier to go to a class. The energy of the group will help you to keep going. Also the fact, that you meet people and will have nice time before and after class, chat a bit, have a tea together and eventually make friends. All that is a big advantage for your practice maintenance. I promise. But also if you prefer to practice alone. Your Yoga space is something very important, very sacred. Find a nice and quiet spot in your home. I know some of us do not have so much space. Doesn't matter. The space you need is as big as your Yoga mat is. So no excuses! ;) In the Sivananda tradition we use to have an altar in our practice space. If you don't believe in "stuff" like that, don't do it. But just to let you know. An Altar must not have to do with the church! It is a tool to create a special and for you personal space and positive environment. So, if you don't want to put pictures of a guru or a small statue of a deity, you could, for example just pick some fresh flowers and a picture of nature you really like and that makes you feel good, when you look at it.
3. The Teacher
If you decide to go to a Yoga class, pick a teacher you feel comfortable with and who inspires you to keep going.
I call it Yogafriends, which is a funny term, but what I mean is: Get to know people who have the same vision or passion. Having friends around you that motivate you to go to practice, or even practice with you is worth more then an annual subscription in your favorite yoga studio. Friends can inspire you, they can help you keep going to classes. When it is difficult to wake up at 7AM to be on time for the 8AM class. It will, for sure, be easier, if you know a friend is waiting there for you to practice together.
In Yoga Philosophy there is a term for it. We call it Svādhyāya. Which more or less means study. Read books about Yoga and Yoga Philosophy to get more familiar with it. Especially when you start to figure out that Yoga is so much more then Asana. I promise, then it gets really interesting!
6. Spiritual Diary
Start writing a spiritual diary. You will see, it really helps you to keep an overview on WHAT and especially HOW OFTEN you practice. I will upload an example of my own spiritual diary soon, so you can have a look how it could look like.