As a yoga teacher and studio owner, I see a continuous pattern of good intentions being set each January, only to peter out within 6-8 weeks for many. There’s usually an initial flurry of activity until the trigger event – a missed class or an unintended glass of wine, soon followed by a descent into free fall where the ‘failure’ is compounded with further falls from grace. Then ‘what’s the point anyway’ shows up to the party and we may end up in behavioral patterns that are actually worse than where we started. Sound familiar? Wondering how you can break the cycle and keep those good intentions going and motivation flowing? Here’s my top tips:

Start Small. Going from nothing to exercising/practicing 5 times a week will generally be unrealistic. Start small, maybe 1 or 2 sessions a week and grow from there. Moving once a week is far better than nothing. Be realistic about what your schedule allows you to do and stick to it.

Go Gentle. If you’re out of practice, choose more gentle forms of movement to start with. Don’t go for the strongest possible option just because you feel guilty about those extra mince pies. It will be counterproductive, as you are more likely to feel out of your depth and give up. As you grow stronger you can move onto the more challenging classes, which can add to your confidence and sense of achievement.

But Do Go. Make it a date with yourself and put it into your diary the same way as you would put a night out with friends. Make it a firm commitment, it is all too easy to swap a class for a drink with colleagues, but which one will make you feel better the next day?

Make It A Treat. Choose a studio/gym you enjoy going to, maybe one with a community vibe, where you feel welcome. It may be a bit more expensive, but maybe you can cut out some of the things that are not so good for you, like the cups of coffee from the coffee shop or things that do not give you a sense of fulfilment.

Not A Tribulation. If you fall out of your routine and miss a few sessions, give yourself a push and get yourself back. It is all too easy to surrender after missing even just a couple of sessions. Think about how you will feel after. I don’t think I ever left a yoga class thinking, “I regret that!”.

Be Kind. If you’re feeling low on energy (and who isn’t by February?) treat yourself to something nurturing like a yin or restorative class and don’t give yourself a hard time about it. These practices are hugely beneficial to your health and stress levels. A dynamic class is not always the best choice. At times, less is more.

Set intentions that feel true to you. Not out of a sense of duty but from a sense of purpose. Doing things just because we need to tick a box in our lives is unlikely to trigger a sense of passion. If you find a place and an activity you truly enjoy doing you are so much more likely to keep it up. If it feels like a drag, it is likely that it will be short-lived. Best of luck with your new year’s intentions!

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