The Very Best Time to Practice Is…
Something that’s been coming up in my conversations a lot lately is trying to find the “right time” to do something that gets your mind and body back on speaking terms. As in, “I just need to find the right time.” I can so help with this, I think to myself when I hear this lament. Because I just so happen to know when the right time is! I love when that happens!
So, without further hoo-ha, the single best time to practice is:
Every day. If that makes you groan — because it seems so obvious, or too hard, or whatever — remember: it can be for only 2 minutes. In fact, William J. Broad, a New York Times journalist and author of The Science of Yoga said in his Fresh Air interview that research supports that a shorter, more regular practice is more beneficial then less frequent, longer practices. “If you do a little [yoga] everyday it’s like putting a little money in the bank every month,” he explained. (And I pumped my fist in my home office.) The results grow exponentially over time, because you get better and better able to give yourself what you need (clarity, relaxation, energy, insight) in the moment you need it. Saving all your angst up for a yoga binge on the weekends doesn’t afford you the same power.
If the thought of doing something good for yourself for a few minutes every day sounds too daunting (I pray it doesn’t — you have two minutes for yourself every day, right? Right??), then these are the other very best times to practice:
Whenever you remember. The hardest thing about any mind-body practice is having the clarity of thought to stop thinking about all you have going on and instead think, “I need to get right with myself.” Perhaps that’s not your language — you might think, “I need a break,” “I wish I could crawl in to bed,” “I need a glass of wine,” or “Calgon, take me away!” But I’m willing to bet that you actually have a moment during the course of most days where you actually tell yourself you need to step out of the rushing river and hang out on the riverbank. The trick, then, is learning to transform that thought into action.
Whenever you get a reminder. Some days are so wacky that you won’t remember that you have an arsenal of tool at your discretion to help you get your mind and body back on speaking terms. On those days, you’ll need an outside trigger. For example — your pre-schooler starts whining, you hear a song on the radio that talking about breathing (and so many of them do, have you noticed?), a friend posts an article about stress on Facebook. Again, you have to transform the thought in to action and stop, drop, and breathe (at the very least), but once you have the awareness, you’re already on your way.
At a certain time of day. From a more practical and planned-out perspective, there are several times of day that I’ve found are extra conducive to sneaking in a little yoga, meditation, mindful housekeeping, what have you. Tying your practice to a recurring event helps make it second nature. Options include:
- Right after you wake up. Roll out of bed, hit the bathroom, and then go directly to your mat (or your personal practice equivalent). I promise, even if your morning routine is rushed and you can only squeeze in a minute or two, you will savor that peaceful beginning and return to it in your mind throughout the day.
- After showering, before dressing. This is my current favorite time. It gives my hair a chance to air dry and my moisturizer to soak in before I have to present myself to anyone (including my family). My closet is actually a small room, and I put a mat right in there, so I’d feel compelled to do a downdog each time I get dressed and undressed.
- Any time you switch gears. Just before the kids come home, right after you get in from work, during the day before you embark on a new task, or first thing after the kids are asleep are all marvelous times to swim in your own waters and emerge refreshed.
- With the kids. If you feel you keep waiting and waiting until the kids are engrossed in something, just invite them to practice with you. They’ll likely be way into it. Or, they’ll get bored and wander off. Either way, you get some time in.
- As part of your bedtime routine. We spend so much energy on making sure our kids get a regular bedtime routine, but it’s as good for us as it is for them. Build 10 minutes in to your end-of-the-day ablutions and notice how it affects your sleep. Wow.
Those are my best thoughts, but I’d love to hear yours. Leave a comment and let me know when you get your mind and body working on the same thing at the same time. Let’s inspire each other!
Take care and keep breathing,