Obstacles to Yoga Practice // Environment Edition

Genetics are a thing. Yes, we know this. When a certain diagnosis repeatedly shows up in your family medical history you have a higher likelihood of having this as well. It’s science. But guess what? Our genetics are certainly not the only thing that dictates our health as we age. It’s been proven over and over again that exercise has a massive influence on our overall health and wellbeing. Exercise and a well-balanced diet are the best ways to combat various diseases and to ensure your immune system is working at its highest capacity. 

So far I haven’t told you anything you don’t already know (I hope). But if it’s so well known that exercise is important, why is it difficult for the average person to exercise on a regular basis? Well, there’s a few barriers. Let’s talk about environment first. 

Where do you do yoga?

I’m not a morning person. The process of getting out of my warm, comfortable bed just to drive to the gym when it’s cold and dark outside is not my favorite way of starting the day. It look me longer than I’d care to admit for me to realize that I can change this to make it work for me! After my gym closed due to COVID-19, I ended up setting up my yoga equipment in my guest room. What a game-changer! Not having to go outside in the cold, dark Washington winter mornings made me far more likely to get out of bed and exercise before going to work. 

Another important aspect of your environment is making your space somewhere you enjoy being. If you prefer to taking classes at yoga studios vs home practice, find a studio that has an atmosphere that makes you feel comfortable. 

If you practice at home, consider these additions or modifications:

  • Change the paint color of the room
  • Modify the layout of the room
  • De-clutter your space to eliminate distractions or create more space
  • Add aromatherapy, plants, and/or music
  • Make sure you like your equipment. If you don’t- change your mat, blanket, bolster, etc.
  • Find a comfortable room temperature
  • Dim the lights to create a more relaxing environment. If you don’t have dimming lights, consider using lamps vs overhead lights. 
  • Open windows to add natural light

Small changes can make a big difference in you feeling more comfortable in your space!

Who do you spend your time with? 

Environment refers to more than just the physical space you practice in. The time that we actually spend exercising is likely only a small portion of our day. The environment surrounding us throughout the rest of our day has a large impact on our exercise routine. In particular, the people we surround ourselves with (our social environment) have a significant influence on our lifestyle. In your daily life, think about the people you surround yourself with. Do you surround yourself with positive individuals? Active people who prioritize a healthy lifestyle? I find that when I surround myself with happy, active people I’m more likely to exercise and take better care of myself. I feel better about myself and have more energy. 

On the flip side, when I spend my day with people who are stressed or in a low place, often times I feel too drained to exercise. That’s unfortunate, because those are probably the times that I need exercise the most. That’s not to say you shouldn’t spend time with individuals who need a shoulder to lean on. But we all know the kind of person I’m referring to when there is always something wrong. Be mindful of the people you’re surrounding yourself with and make sure you’re taking necessary steps to take care of yourself as well. 

Even small changes can have a big impact in your environment. Do what you can with what you have. I’m a firm believer that your environment influences consistency with your yoga practice. Make it a calming, energizing, or rejuvenating environment depending on what you feel you need. You won’t regret it! 

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