If you’re a regular Della Terra Wellness reader, there’s a good chance that you already attend yoga classes every once in a while, and maybe you have dabbled in other meditation techniques, too.
Incorporating these practices into your life 2 or 3 times a week is great -every little bit helps- but if you want to transform and grow into your most vibrant potential you have to have a daily practice.
Your automatic response to this is probably that you don’t have enough time, but I want to show you that you actually do.
That’s because while you might not make it to yoga classes every day, your practice can take different forms on “off-days”.
I’ll describe easy ways to incorporate daily practice into your life later in this article, but first I want you to understand why daily practice is so important.
Why You Should Practice Every Day
Slow Down the Aging Process
Even if you don’t feel it in your body yet, an indisputable truth in life is that as our bodies age they don’t function as well as they used to.
While aging can’t be avoided, the negative effects of aging can be slowed by regular, gentle movements and endurance exercises.
My Taiqi teacher, Master Ko, always reminds me that every time you practice, you take one or two steps forward in reversing the unwelcomed consequences that come with increased age.
If you skip a day of gentle movements, you take half a step back. When you practice only a few times a week, you simply maintain but don’t improve your health, and time continues to take its toll on your body.
Increase Mental and Emotional Clarity
Just as your physical body needs regular attention, so too do the mental and emotional aspects of yourself.
Numerous studies have shown that regular mindfulness and meditation practices actually change your brain structure, leading to improvements in learning and memory, emotion regulation, sense of self, and improved perspective in life. [http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12793/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-a-neuroscientist-explains.html]
But once again, you need to practice regularly if you want to experience any significant benefits.
Create Internal Resources
On both the physical and ethereal planes, engaging in daily practice is important whether you are feeling great or down in the dumps.
Daily practice builds strength that reaches far deeper than your muscle mass, allows you to reflect on your current state, and set intentions for how you want to grow.
It enables you to heal old wounds while preparing for the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” as Shakespeare once said, so you can better handle whatever life throws your way.
By disciplining yourself to show up for your practice every day, you are creating a safe-haven that will provide an indispensible resource within yourself to face even the most challenging life circumstances.
How to Practice Every Day
The more you practice, the better, but it’s ok if you don’t have 2 hours to dedicate every day.
When it comes to your practice, it’s better to practice less, more often, than to practice more, less often.
So if time constraints prevent you from going to classes every day, don’t give up!
It’s actually better if you do even 10 minutes every day than to go to an hour-long class only once or twice a week.
Easy ways to incorporate daily practice into your busy life:
Come to your senses through mindfulness.
The best way to take your practice into your everyday life is by practicing mindfulness.
Many of us travel through our lives in a state of distraction, missing out on the full experience in front of us.
If you practice mindfulness though, and continually guide your awareness to your senses, coming in full contact with the smells, textures, tastes, sounds, and other sensations around you.
You can practice mindfulness while you’re standing on line, riding in a car, doing the dishes, or taking a shower. In fact, you can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere.
Begin and/or end the day with 3-5 full rounds of sun salutations.
Even if you only have 10 minutes, meet yourself on your yoga mat, tune into your breath, and check in with your physical, emotional and mental bodies.
Taking a moment to reflect on how you are doing will inform the way you approach the rest of your life off your mat, leading to more self-acceptance, care, and a sense of greater fulfillment and satisfaction.
Do sun salutations (or taiqi/qigong, whatever floats your boat) slowly and mindfully, following your breath, and experience the cycles of the movements as fully as possible.
Walking with a mindful intention is a great way to meld both physical and mental practice into your everyday life.
Whenever you are going somewhere, pay attention to the feeling of the air around you, the earth beneath you, and how your body is holding itself as you walk.
If you have a 10 minute break, go for a mindful walk around the block, focusing on your breathing and the sensations the moment has to offer. If you are about to drive somewhere, contemplate if your destination is close enough to walk, and take advantage of the commute to engage in your practice.
As you can see, a daily practice just takes intention and commitment, and doesn’t have to take up a lot of time.
The benefits outweigh the effort, so try to incorporate a practice into your daily routine. You have everything to gain!