“Yoga tourism” is a term that I use to describe how most of us start practicing yoga. You go to a studio by your office with a great teacher, then you find a studio near your home and another wonderful teacher.
Pretty soon, you are practicing at 3 or 4 studios a week with a variety of teachers, yoga styles, and postures. It’s fun! But then you notice your yoga practice has begun to plateau, and you’re feeling kind of stagnant, and that doesn’t make any sense. You’re practicing more than ever, after all.
After a decade of being a yoga tourist, I changed the way I practice yoga. Three years ago I began practicing very consistently. The same sequence of 20 poses, at the same time of the day, in the same place 6 days a week. The shifts in my practice, and the way I’m living my yoga off the mat, are night-and-day compared to the yogini I was even a few years ago, when I had a strong daily practice, but no real consistency.
For me, this has been one of the most amazing discoveries along the path of yoga. Here are three benefits I have personally found in having a consistent yoga practice:
1. It Takes Willpower and Decision-Making Out of the Equation
When you have a wide variety of classes that you could go to, at a handful of studios, all with full rosters of teachers, the task of just picking which class and what time you’re going can become a bit of a chore.
By cutting down the choices to one sequence at the same time every day, you don’t have to think about it. You know exactly when, where, and how you’re practicing yoga. Every single day. The freedom in making this choice once, instead of a bunch of choices every week, is awesome.
2. You Can Monitor Progress, and Change on the Mat
By doing the same poses daily, you give yourself a chance to watch how your practice is progressing and changing over time. As a yoga tourist, you may do back-bending poses two days in a row and then not again for three weeks. It can be tough to move forward with certain postures unless you’re revisiting them often.
Almost all yoga poses have many layers to them: there is no perfect pose, there is no being “done” with a pose. Just when you reach a new level of strength or flexibility, a whole new echelon unfolds for you. By practicing a carefully sequenced set of poses day after day, you give yourself the opportunity to really understand and open up into those poses.
Bonus: when you do go to a workshop or a different class every once in a while, you’ll be pleased with how much your entire practice has changed. Daily repetition of a handful of poses will easily translate into depth and openness in poses that use the same strengths and flexibilities.
There are hundreds and hundreds of yoga poses, but there are only so many joints and muscles in your body to build up and stretch out.
3. It Provides a Touchstone for Your Life Off the Mat
This is maybe my favorite, and certainly most life-changing, part of a consistent practice. By returning to your mat daily to go through the same sequence of poses, you create a point of reference for everything else happening in your life.
You can more deeply understand the impact of a change in your diet (or even just a night of pizza and wine) because you have something to measure it against. You will have more clarity around the quality of your sleep and when you feel fatigued versus energized. Emotionally, you become more even-keeled because there is a common thread through your days and weeks and months that ties things together.
Having yoga as the touchstone for my life off the mat encourages me to recommit every morning when I’m on my mat. All of a sudden, my practice isn’t only about movement, exercise, or connection to something greater than myself (not that that wouldn’t be enough!).
It’s about living my best life, and being the best version of myself possible.
Do you practice the same poses, at the same time, in the same place every day? What changes have you experienced from doing so? Share them with us in the comments below!