I have always struggled with exercise. In fact, my first and only disastrous encounter with the gym ended with me declaring loudly to the instructors that ‘the machines were too big.’ Honestly I found them very intimidating.
What I have been has been a walker. I enjoy walking, I can walk from here to Timbuktu. It's the one form of exercise that makes me happy without being too demanding. Enter yoga. I have been a yogi going on 8 years now and it's the one space I found strength, flexibility and growth. My yoga journey has been nothing short of phenomenal even though when I started out I used to go for one class every Saturday. The results were nothing short of amazing.
Come 2016, my gal pal Julianne offered me an opportunity to sponsor my very first yoga challenge. Obviously I had to take part and do the poses as well. I was convinced in my head that it was virtually impossible for me to practice every single day. So I devised a plan where I would just do a pose and take the photo. I loved hosting and participating in the challenge so much that I decided to continue. Only to realize that it was suicide to just keep taking photos without warm up- my muscles were tired and sore and I knew then that I HAD no choice but to get into a regular yoga practice- if I was going to participate in challenges without hurting myself.
It was definitely a big shift. Many times I struggled to find time to practice. Other times I had no idea how to practice- despite knowing many of the asanas by heart. It just was not the same.
In the midst of all that, I am happy to share that I have found my equilibrium- that spot where it is Goldilocks perfect- a system that has proven totally effective for me.
Today I share with you a few of my best tips to help you ease into a regular exercise routine so that you don't feel overwhelmed and give up halfway.
1| Start Slowly
When I first started out, I used to do only 10 minutes of exercise a day. It was all I thought I had to spare in my busy day-to-day schedule. I slowly transitioned to 15 minutes. Now I’m at a constant 30 minutes of exercise in the morning. The key to get going is to pace yourself and build up in manageable doses.
2| Schedule It
I have deliberately set aside 30 minutes after my morning journaling to get my exercise on. It has become part of my routine. Remember, what gets scheduled, gets done. It's easy to get overwhelmed by tasks and not create time for exercise but it's a commitment that is good to follow through.
3| Get Some Help
Whatever shape or form that help might look like or take. For me, it started with online YouTube videos. In fact if there is one thing that I feel has helped improve my home practice, this would be it. There are many amazing teachers who have so graciously offered of themselves through free video tutorials. Practicing along to their instructions has created a safe space for me to go deeper and try out new routines and variations. On my own, I was unable to practice well but under their guidance I have greatly improved on this journey.
Help could also be in the form of props. I have my yoga wheel, strap and blocks. Some poses that have seemed so out of reach have been made easier through these props. Once you get your ego and doubt out of the way, you understand that the added support can assist you with muscle memory and accessing the pose.
Don't underestimate the power of community and getting your fitness on together. That's why I consistently do yoga challenges on Instagram. They have helped me grow in ways that I couldn't from practicing by myself. I have learnt new variations, new ways of practicing but most importantly, it has encouraged me to develop a consistent yoga practice.
I also make use of my essential oils in my yoga practice in a beautiful synergy known as yogaroma. Depending on my overall intention, sometimes I am able to breathe better or find a bit of release. The oils work to support my intention and there are many oils that are helpful during the pre and post-workout stages.
4| Determine Your Goals
This will help you figure out what type of exercise you want to focus on. I realized that for me, I have so many goals – if it’s not splits, it’s getting into firefly and so on. There’s always something to work on- somewhere you can improve on in any practice. The problem with not getting clear is you end up flailing around with no tangible return on your effort.
5| Vary It Up
Otherwise you end up getting bored. Vary your teacher. Vary the type of exercise you do. Play around with the duration. Variety is the spice of life. Short bursts. A longer and more controlled form. Work on different areas. There's always something to work towards.
I have recently downloaded the Pacer app to help me track my steps and I hope to upgrade to a proper FitBit very soon. It is encouraging to see the results of your effort. It also helps keep you in check – especially in terms of your movement throughout the day.
7|Workout To Music
I recently did a challenge where we had to incorporate music into the flow. I really enjoyed that. We are always working out to music at the yoga studio and it always makes the practice fun and light. So if you are feeling stumped, get your favorite play list on and get dancing.
Are you an exercise junkie? How do you exercise?
Let me know your best tips for making your exercise time inspiring