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Practice

5 Sneaky Tips Guaranteed to Get You On Your Mat

Here's how to make that couch-to-mat transition a little easier.

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Sadhana is a Sanskrit term that means to accomplish, solve, realize, or do. In practical terms, it means to breathe, exercise, visualize, remember, concentrate, interrogate (our own mind), resonate, and divinely grind, bead-by-bead on the mala of days and decades until we realize that our practice never ends. When we’re not on our mat or meditation pillow, we’re applying the fruits of our inner labors in the alchemical cauldron of life.

Those who wish to identify as yogis do yoga. “Doing yoga” means having a conscious intentionality around all things and striving for presence through all dimensions of being

The great Samurai swordsman Miyamoto Musashi said that one can only fight the way one practices. As yoga teachers and/or committed yogis, to hold a space of grace, we need to become familiar with the territory by visiting our practice every day.

Practicing daily has physical, mental and spiritual benefits: Your spine moves in all directions, your muscles flex, your nervous system de-stresses, your lungs expand, your chakras coordinate, your soul celebrates.

My commitment to sadhana is sacred. Nevertheless, after half a century of practice, as a card-carrying kapha/pitta I’ve needed to develop some hacks to ensure that my discipline gets done—and they may work for you, too.

See also: The Benefits of Yoga: 38 Ways Your Practice Can Improve Your Life

Move your body

I often preface my practice with some form of cardio, like a hike or swimming (which I use to multi-task with a mantra or breath), to get my energy flowing. If you’re short on time, even walking in place for 5 minutes can get your energy moving and create momentum for your practice.

Start with some “sofa yoga”

Another stratagem to effect the sacred pilgrimage from furniture to floor is to start your practice on a chair or sofa. Do some pranayama or spine flexes then stand up. Face the sofa or chair and place your hand on the seat’s edge. Step back three to four feet (depending on the length of your spine), and move into a modified form of Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog). Breathe deeply and cultivate a stretch in your lower back and hamstrings. Once your muscles are warmed up, it’s an easy transition onto your mat.

See also: 5 Calming Yoga Poses You Can Do in 5 Minutes

Commit to doing just 1 pose

If your ego is resistant to practicing, commit to doing just one exercise, and allow yourself to stop after that pose if you wish. You’ll likely find that once you’ve established momentum, your body will crave continuing with your practice.

Teach

The ultimate practice hack is to share our practice with others. It’s a total win–win. To teach is to learn twice. We stay accountable to our own discipline and others have the opportunity to enhance theirs. If you’re not a yoga teacher, share your practice with friends and family.

Be consistent

It’s common to push your practice back in favor of more (seemingly) pressing tasks. One way to avoid this is to set aside the same time each day to practice. Mark in in your calendar, just like you would any other appointment. When you make time for the Universe (that you honor through your practice), the Universe will make time for you.

See also: A Yoga Sequence to Help You Commit to Daily Practice