Contrary to common belief, motivation is not a permanent thing. Instead, it comes and goes, it waivers and oscillates, its force dependent on a vast array of often unidentified factors. The most well-meaning intentions can be derailed by a temporary lapse of motivation: diets undone by the offer of dessert, Sober-October cut short for a work-do. Our yoga practice, too, is susceptible to such motivational caprice, flailing in the emotionally inconsistent winds.
The transition to the colder months holds with it the promise of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Halloween confectionary lining supermarket shelves, and - frequently- a growing despondency to visit the yoga studio. Faced with hours without daylight and a swift drop in temperature, the allure of the studio wanes, abandoned for the warm nest of cushions and blankets so carefully constructed upon the sofa. Yet, while watching countless episodes of Schitts Creek may be tempting, keeping up a regular yoga practice will be far more beneficial...trust us.
Every winter we are reminded of the particular phrase: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”.
This saying, frustrating as it is to be told bare-armed, shivering in the cold, holds some truth. When the weather turns, the right yoga-wear can make a world of difference, the difference being trembling uncontrollably in savasana or blissful relaxation in the final pose. Thursday night’s Hatha class suddenly becomes more inviting when dressed in a cosy soft jumper, and heading out in the cold doesn’t seem quite so bad when wearing a stylish, comfortable cardigan. After all, there is nothing quite like covering yourself in a warm woollen blanket to begin your practice.
Much like a dog in-training, guided into good behaviour by a promised-treat, you might appreciate incentives to keep your my weekly yoga classes. Purchasing a monthly yoga subscription or class pack instils a sense of accountability when it comes to your weekly vinyasa class. When the journey to the studio seems unbearable, the thought of disappointing the teacher, or losing out financially, is more often than not reason enough to head outdoors. And, if you do take a class when you least want to, why not reward yourself with a delicious treat on the way home?
Of course, keeping motivated is much easier when carrying out classes you enjoy with teachers that inspire you. It seems simple enough in practice, and yet all too often we find ourselves half-heartedly participating in classes we feel we “should” attend, rather than those we “want” to. We strive through the discomfort, thinking that perseverance will ultimately result in genuine commitment. Unfortunately not. Longevity comes with finding a yoga style that truly fulfils and lifts you, leaving you eager, not depleted, for the next class.
More frequently, it is the less glamorous habit, not motivation, that is responsible for long-term yoga practice. Establishing a regular yoga routine eliminates the need for will-power or decision making, the repetition of the act gradually becoming automatic or second-nature.
While it may feel counterintuitive to structure what is a natural, organic exercise, doing so will serve to sustain your practice when motivation is not up to the job.
The rise in online classes means the dreary walk to the yoga studio is no longer compulsory to get our yoga fix. If you find yourself unwilling to leave the house, the selection of virtual live classes is as wide-ranging as its in-person equivalent. With the advent of online classes, now we can browse yoga classes as we would Netflix series, following the class without shedding off those winter pyjamas. Even at our most demotivated, lighting some candles and visiting our favourite online class will get us back on the mat. Mustering up some motivation is not quite so necessary when all that is required is a switch of a button.
Whether it's purchasing that cosy knit, setting up a home yoga space or scheduling the months yoga classes in advance, these simple hacks will keep your practice going throughout the winter period.
Written by our contributor Melissa Albarran from Yoga Alliance Professionals