Is there such a thing as ‘no time to practice’?

When the first lockdown started in Switzerland I spent a lot of time outside with the kids and most of the times I was able to fit a short yoga practice to those outdoor moments. Kids were sometimes running around (and under) me but that’s part of being a mom and it just brought a smile on my face.

The last time I visited my doctor he showed me a graphic of how much exercise is enough to support health. According to his figures an average person needs 30 minutes of cardio exercise three times a week and about 30 minutes of strength training twice a week. Now that doesn’t sound impossible right?

I often hear people saying that they don’t have time to practice yoga or do any other forms of exercise. This concept of the lack of time is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot and often especially after becoming a mother (nine years of contemplating) and it’s a theme that regularly comes up in private and group yoga classes. People from new mothers to busy corporate workers often come to me to learn simple yoga poses and sequences that they can easily fit into their otherwise busy life. Most of them are complete beginners in yoga and others have already gained some experience but are lacking regularity in their practice.

The other day I did a quick 15 minutes practice while my oatmeal was slowly cooking on the stove and it reminded me of this theme and about a video I shot in Umbria this summer (check out my Instagram for the video). I felt a sudden need to write about this topic a bit more profoundly because the fact is that many of us don’t always have a lot of time in our hands to practice yoga or exercise. There’s time but just not so much of it. And this is what often fools people to believe that nothing can be done.

Ardha Uttanasana can be done anywhere! All you need is a wall or anything else where to put your hands on and enough space behind you to step the feet back. This is an asana I do almost every day!

On those days when life is busy, I personally focus mainly on yoga sequences that I know by heart; like the classical Surya Namaskar, the Purna Yoga morning series, or hip series. These sequences on their own, or combined, offer a pretty complete yoga practice. You can get a lot done in half an hour (or less) if you know what to do. That morning it took me only 15 minutes to flow through the Purna Yoga morning series and three rounds of the classical Surya Namaskar. And it was all done during downtime. I could either sit and stare at my porridge until it’s ready or get on my mat and practice. I chose the latter.

We all need a few simple, easy, and effective sequences in our back pocket to get us through those busy days without having to sacrifice movement. This saves you the time and mental energy of having to think too much or for too long about what to do when you already have a long line of things waiting to be done. If you really want to practice every day (or maybe every other day), you can! Make it your priority and you will find the time to make it happen. Become aware of your own habits and thinking patterns. Is it really so that you have zero time to practice or is your mind just coming up with excuses to not practice? What is the real problem?

If you keep telling yourself, day after day, that “I don’t have time to practice” you will start believing that time is the issue when most of the time it’s not the time that’s the problem. Maybe you were too tired, lazy, sad, didn’t feel like practicing, or simply didn’t know what you should do or what you need. Be honest with yourself so that you can fix the real problem.

When we really want something we create time for it. We find a way to make it possible, to make it happen, to make it work. We just need to want it badly enough. For me, my personal yoga practice is one of those things. The benefits of practicing are far greater than giving in to the illusion of impossibility and skipping the practice altogether just because the circumstances are not ideal. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

The desire to practice becomes stronger than the excuses. This is where the mind starts to look for and see solutions instead of problems. It turns obstacles into possibilities and leads you in the right direction.

Meditating at my happy place on top of the Grappa mountain in Italy.

In the past, I’ve sat countless times on my yoga mat trying to figure out what I should do there. I had taken a myriad of yoga classes as a student but still didn’t have any idea how to practice on my own so I just ended up wasting the little time I had on thinking what to do. In the end, I didn’t do anything and ended up feeling frustrated, annoyed, and hopeless. I don’t want my students or you to feel like that which is why I teach you right from the beginning simple, easy, and effective sequences and poses that you can effortlessly incorporate into your daily life. I explain what are the benefits so that you can pick up the ones that you need right at that moment. This is one of the reasons why we practice for example the classical version of Surya Namaskar in almost every class. We do that so that you can feel the amazing benefits of the sequence in your body and learn the sequence by heart. Most of my students come to classes once a week but in order to cultivate all the benefits of yoga, you need to practice regularly. I want my classes to provide you with tools you can take home with and practice there until we meet the next time.

“If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness.”

Unknown

Change your mantra from ‘I don’t have time’ to ‘I will make time.’ For a few days, keep a track of your day and write down everything that you do from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep. This way you can have a better picture of how much time you spend on different things. I’m sure you will find at least 15 minutes each day to do yoga or other types of exercise that supports your wellbeing. Get into the root of the problem so that you can find a solution.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana done on a bench in a forest during a hike in Italy.

I dare to claim that time is not the real issue but that the problem lies somewhere else. By being honest to yourself you can find the real problem and work on it. And guess what, oftentimes Yoga offers you the exact tools to work on your real problem. Whatever your problem is, getting on the mat to move, meditate, to breathe will help you find a solution. You just got two flies with one hit!

If you know what to do and why you do it, the when will follow.

“Well planned is half done”.

I believe that DAILY MOVEMENT IS POSSIBLE. As long as you’re not too strict about where it happens or how long it lasts. A little goes a long way.
I do my best to not let myself be limited by the outer circumstances but rather try to make them to my advantage. With a little bit of creativity and an open mind one can do a lot even in the weirdest places and limited amount of time. I’ve ran around a playground for 30 minutes just to get my running workout done while the kids were doing their own things. Not because I had to but because I wanted to.

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