I ended 2012 with a total of 304 Bikram yoga classes. When I first figured this out, four days ago, my initial reaction was to try to beat that number in 2013. But honestly, that’s just silly. 2013 shouldn’t be about taking more than 304 Bikram classes. Do you know how I got to that number? I just went to class. I went regularly, and I didn’t think about my overall number.
I set two main goals for myself last year. First, when I was working during the semester my goal was to go five times a week. When the university was not in session my goal was to go 6-7 days a week. To accomplish this, I had to make a schedule for myself. My schedule is pretty fixed during the academic year. I know when I’m teaching class. I know when most of my meetings are. That makes it easy for me to look at my schedule before the semester starts and pick the days and times I will go to yoga. Sometimes I have to make adjustments in my time based on things that come up (like going to a 6:00 am class when I had planned to go to a 4:30pm one), and yes sometimes I may have to go only four times a week instead of five. But those times are so rare (think two-three times over the course of an entire year).
This brings me to an important point. It is easy to make excuses for why I can’t go to class. I could plan to go on a Friday at 4:30, but then find a reason why I couldn’t do that (and I could even make it be a very reasonable one). The trick is that only actual emergenices or super, serious important things get to disrupt my schedule (like getting really ill or having an emergency session with the dentist). Those are the kinds of things that will cause me to not go to class. They don’t happen that often. Sometimes there might be a special event that causes me to miss – like when I have my yummy dessert party in February I need to miss a Saturday to prep. But again, these are all things that rarely happen. These are not habits. Honestly, if I had to miss a class because of an emergency I would likely change my scheudle around so I went on a day when I hadn’t planned to go. A make-up class of sorts.
If you want your practice to be more consistent I would suggest the following:
(a) determine how many days you want to go. You could do this week by week. For example, maybe one week you want to go three times, and the next week you decide to go four. Your numbers don’t have to match anyone else’s, and they should be relevant to you and your growth.
(b) Once you have set a goal, make a plan. When exactly are you taking these classes and at what time?
(c) Write down your classes into your calendar. It’s now an appointment. Don’t cancel it. Think of it as a business meeting with yourself if that helps, but do not cancel it!
The goal ultimately isn’t to see how many classes you can take in a year. While I admit it was very exciting to learn I had taken 304 classes in 2012, that’s not what’s important. What is important is developing and growing a consistent practice. When I first started (three years ago), I went one day a week. Hey, one day a week might not be great but it was consistent. I built from there.
Also, remember that you can likely do more than what you think you can. Originally, I believed I could only practice three days a week when the university was in session. Those days were Saturday, Sunday, and one day during the week. Now I practice five with three of those days being weekdays. Nothing changed about my job. I just changed how I thought about my practice in relation to my life. And, least you think I got it super easy, it takes me 30 minutes to get to the studio. So I spend an hour driving each time I go, I arrive 30 minutes early to do work before class, and I take a 90 minute class. Yep. That whole event took three hours not including the mandatory shower, and I do it at least five times a week. And I will be doing it all over again for 2013.
What will you do to maintain a consistent practice this year?