One of the most common questions people ask me is “How do you stay motivated to practice yoga?” I’d like to share with you my story of how I first motivated myself and how I continue to do so today.
Years ago, I was that person who hated to exercise and never set foot in a gym. I ate McDonald’s for breakfast and I really disliked everything there was about sweating or exerting energy. Because of my Fibromyalgia, I thought that exercise wasn’t for me and I used my illness as an excuse. I couldn’t even do one push up and walking up a flight of stairs took the breath out of me. I was very unhappy with how I felt and looked but I didn’t have any idea where to start. “Motivation” wasn’t really happening on its own for me but I knew I had to do something.
At the age of 27, I had moved across country with my husband and was living in a new place with no friends. Everything was already hard and now just got harder. One day, I literally just woke up and decided to find the motivation to change my life. They were opening up a Gold’s Gym near me and I thought “I should apply as a receptionist so I will be motivated to workout after my shift is over.” Yeah. Ummm. No. That didn’t happen. In fact, it made things worse. All I wanted to do was go home and lay on the couch after work, not work-out. Who’s crazy idea was that anyway? Obviously, I had no clue how to find motivation.
Then, one day at the gym they were offering for indoor cycling teacher training. Something inside me said “do it” even though I was shy, terribly out of shape, had never worked out a day in my life and smoked cigarettes. Yeah, I’m totally PERFECT for this job! I’ll never forget my husband’s reaction when I told him I was going to teach spinning at the gym. He looked at me and said, “But, you hate to workout!” Yes, it was true. Hate was putting it nicely but I figured it was worth a try.
The months that followed changed my life. I began to see a change in myself and I found that I had a love for teaching others. I decided to sign up for every training I could and learn everything there was about fitness, nutrition and eventually yoga. If it wasn’t for my students the first 10 years of teaching, I probably would have lost all motivation but it was because of them I stayed focused and centered on continuing this journey.
The last 5 years of my life, however, has been rather difficult to “motivate” myself to practice. I don’t teach regular weekly classes anymore and most of my teaching is filming for video or teaching weekend workshops once a month. I knew I had to figure out something else to motivate me. I decided that I would need to show up if only for myself, every day. I didn’t have my regular students anymore but I did have the ability to schedule a time to practice so that is what I did. I set an alarm on my phone that would remind me that it was 2pm and time to get on my mat. It was hard and most days I wanted to just hit snooze but I promised myself that I would at the very least, step on my mat and move my body for 20 minutes. I began hosting yoga challenges on Instagram to help me stay accountable. I knew I had to warm up enough to take a photo of a yoga pose so, off to my mat I went.
After 20 minutes of movement, I would begin to feel better and want to move more. I’m not one of these people that loves to practice. For me, it is like brushing my teeth. I just do it. I wouldn’t say I love brushing my teeth but I do love how I feel afterward. Practice for me is the same way. I just set a time and do it. I don’t let myself skip unless I am sick or injured.
Motivation is something that rarely happens to you in the day to day. It is something however that you can schedule and make happen.
You can create accountability by asking a friend to workout with you or do something crazy and host a challenge on Instagram! When I started hosting Instagram challenges it was purely for my motivation. For many years my challenges forced me to my mat and helped get me to where I am today. Make your practice (or whatever it is that you do for fitness) a routine like brushing your teeth and you won’t ever have to worry about being motivated again.