5 inspiring ideas to develop a regular yoga routine

Ever started the new year promising yourself that this is the year you will start yoga? Or even just aim to maintain your current yoga routine?

Ever found that by mid-February you’ve already fallen off the bandwagon?  Yep, me too.

For lots of people, it can be hard to establish and maintain a yoga routine, despite knowing the numerous and vast benefits of yoga.

Maybe you’ve heard of the calming effect yoga can have on your nervous system, yet something about keeping a routine brings up feelings of anxiety or frustration.

You’re not alone. Not at all. In fact “How do I maintain a yoga routine?” is the question I get asked the most.

Therefore, this article will look at just that, covering five areas that I think are key to success.

I have separated each category into a series of small actionable steps that cover a total of 10 days. You can do this over the course of 10 days, or all in one day – find what suits you best.

At a glance:

Before starting anything new, it is important to honestly address why you want to do this. Getting very clear on your real reasons for beginning or returning to yoga will ultimately be what gets you through the tough times.

Our brains love comfort.  It will do anything to keep us in our comfort zone, and new experiences like yoga bring us out of it. Our brain, therefore, will produce all sorts of excuses, buy into misconceptions, and repeatedly whisper long-held deeply ingrained limiting beliefs. Reframing these is core to overcoming some major obstacles that prevent us from getting on the mat.

Motivation is often touted as the key to maintaining a routine. “How do I stay motivated?” is the second top question I get asked. However, though motivation is key, its lesser-valued friend “discipline” is where we should be focusing our attention regarding maintaining a yoga routine.

Getting realistic about when, where, how, who, and for how long we can practice yoga is key to establishing a yoga routine. This is the nitty gritty that we often overlook, which is why we end up practicing only when we remember. That is a sure-fire fast track to falling off the bandwagon.

Planning ahead, even for as long as a month in advance, takes away a lot of the legwork for you. Sitting down with a calendar and penning in what class you will do that day is key to establishing a yoga routine, but there are various ways to do this to suit you and your lifestyle.

To track your progress over the next few days, click the button below to get the accompanying checklist for this post.

Why do you want to start yoga?

1. How inspiring are your intentions to start yoga?

Essentially, what is your “why”? This is one of the most important things to get clear on if you want to maintain a solid yoga routine. A good way to discover the true nature of your motivations is to put pen to paper (or thumbs to screen). You might be surprised by what comes up. This is where you begin to become your own teacher as you start to take responsibility for your own practice.

Day 1: Finding your “Why”

Set aside 20 minutes, find a cozy quiet corner of your home, office, or favorite cafe, and jot down your responses to the following questions.

How did you find yoga? What was your first introduction to yoga?

What did you feel when you first discovered yoga?

Who or what encouraged you to try it out?

How did you feel before your first class?

What did you feel during your first class?

How did you feel after your first class?

What about after a few classes?

What made you want to try it again?

Can you identify the benefits of yoga that you feel apply to you?

What is your goal with yoga? Why is this goal important to you?

Try to avoid judging or editing anything that comes up. This is an exercise in being curious about your own experience.

Remember that your goals with yoga will likely change over time and that is totally OK.

Make sure, though, that this is something you want for yourself, and not something you’re doing to please someone else, as this runs the risk of turning into resentment – a sure way to kill any well-intentioned attempt at routine.

Reset your mindset around your yoga routine

2. Mindset reset: creative tips to inspire your yoga

This set of steps is arguably the hardest and can dredge up a lot of icky stuff. Here, I am asking you to take a look at some aspects of yourself that you may rather not see.

Though it may not sound like it, these steps are actually a great opportunity to uncover some of the obstacles we put in our path.

These steps are important, as they are the most effective way to really get to the bottom of why a yoga routine can be so difficult to establish.

We often think that the beginning of class is the hardest part. We are at the precipice of the unknown and completely at the will of the teacher.

However, one of the most difficult elements of establishing a yoga routine actually occurs well before the beginning of class. That is our inherent excuses, misconceptions, and limited beliefs. Let’s look at each one in turn.

Before we begin, let me emphasize: this work can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Be sure to check in with yourself to see if you need to take a break. Take as many breaks as you need. Promise yourself to come back to it when you’re refreshed and reenergized. 

FUN FACT: It might not feel like it, but by doing this exercise, you are actually doing yoga. There is a concept in yoga philosophy called “Svadhyaya” which translates as “self-study”.

I am asking you to analyze parts of yourself in great detail – essentially you are doing yoga by practicing svadhyaya!

Day 2: Excuses, excuses!

Think back over the past week. What excuses have you made to let yourself off the hook? This doesn’t have to be yoga related but can give you an idea of the things your brain tells you to stay in your comfort zone.

Make a list of them. Then, circle the ones that you made to prevent yourself from starting something new (or recent). Highlight the ones that you made to prevent yourself from doing something hard or bothersome.

Some examples from my list include:

  • Debating whether or not to go for my daily walk: “I can double up tomorrow, it’s too cold today” 
  • Deciding whether or not to study or watch the next episode of Love is Blind: “Well, it’s already started, so I’ll just watch the first ten minutes”
  • Considering if I should get out of bed and onto the mat: “I think I’ll have more time to practice tonight after work. I’ll do it then”
  • Sitting down to research a new blog post:  “This place is filthy, it really needs to be cleaned”. 

When you’ve made your list, try to identify some common themes that appear. For example:

  • If I perceive something to be bothersome, I make excuses that essentially delay the action I need to take. It always ends up falling into the “I can do it later” category, and later never comes.
  • When I perceive something to be hard, I make excuses that essentially distract me from starting. It falls into the “I can’t do X until I’ve done Y” category.

How about you?

Day 3: True or False?

After you’ve identified your excuses and the themes they embody, it’s time to take a look at their veracity. For each excuse you listed yesterday, get really clear on how true they are.

For example, I often tell myself I’ll have more time to practice yoga later in the day. In truth, that never happens. Later in the day, my to-do list has doubled in perfect correlation with my level of tiredness. If I am really honest with myself, my mornings are when I have the freest time.

How about you? Next to each excuse, write down what is actually true, no matter how hard it is to admit to yourself.

PRO TIP: If you find yourself making excuses for your excuses, look back at your notes from Day 1 and remind yourself of why this is important to you. Day 1 will eventually become your own self-pep-talk (this is what I mean when I say you become your own teacher). 

Day 4: Conquering your excuses

Now we know the general themes our excuses take, and the veracity of each excuse, it is time to reframe them.

For each excuse, consider how you could reframe it into a gentle, loving encouragement. (You can do this just for the ones about yoga, or, if you have the time, the whole list from Day 2). Write it similar to how you’d say it to a dear friend or loved one.

For example:

  • “I’ll have more time after work to practice yoga” is a delaying tactic with a veracity level of zero.
  • Instead, let’s say “Love, work tires you out every single day. Do yourself a favor and practice now, so you have more energy and clarity for the day. Invest in your future self”.

Whatever works for you, reframe it, and write it down.

Day 5: Getting clear on misconceptions

This step is fairly simple, and may only take thirty minutes or so.

First, take some time to list out all the beliefs about yoga you hold.

Do you think you need to be thin to practice yoga? Write it down.

Have you ever believed that you need to be flexible, young, or spiritual to practice yoga? Write them all down.

When you have exhausted all possible misconceptions, grab your phone or computer and get friendly with Google. Start with the search phrase “Is it true that….” and finish the sentence with your misconception.

Read a couple of articles that come up and decide if they validate or invalidate your long-held belief about what you should or shouldn’t be, do, or have to practice yoga.

Some examples might include:

“Is it true that…

  • I need a mat to practice yoga?
  • I need to be religious to practice yoga?”
  • yoga is only beneficial for young people?”

To get started with your search, take a look at this article about yoga mats.

FUN FACT: At no point in any text on yoga philosophy does it state that you need to be thin, flexible, or young to practice yoga. Yoga is for everybody. 

Day 6: Limiting Beliefs

Let’s now take a closer look at some of the reasons we can self-sabotage when it comes to maintaining a yoga routine.

Here is where we really get into the practice of svadhyaya (self-study). Uncovering our limiting beliefs can cause some discomfort, maybe even pain. It is important to take this step at a pace that suits you. Part of svadhyaya is being able to recognize when it’s becoming too overwhelming, and letting yourself take a break whenever you need it. If you feel it is necessary, seek professional help from a licensed therapist to help process some of the things that come up for you.

What are limiting beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are deeply held, often mistaken beliefs we hold about ourselves. They serve as a form of self-protection, likely stemming from events that happened in our childhood. Some may take the form of “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not worthy”. They are there to prevent us from feeling too vulnerable, or from experiencing humiliation or rejection.

However, according to this article, “Taking time to unpick our limiting beliefs can free us up to live fuller, more fulfilling lives, full of confidence and purpose”.

Take a few minutes throughout the day to jot down any limiting beliefs that come up for you.

They might take the form of:

  • “I’ll never be able to….”
  • “I’m not…”
  • “It won’t…”

It might even take the form of a question, such as:

  • “What’s the point?”
  • “Who would listen to me, anyway?”

Reframing limiting beliefs

At the end of the day, look back at what you noted and take some time just to sit with them. These beliefs are the voice of a younger version of you that experienced rejection, humiliation, or being taken advantage of by someone or something, no matter how big or small. Your brain, always there to protect you, created these beliefs to keep you from feeling like this again.

Take time to thank that voice for being there, always looking to protect you. Perhaps, if it helps, write down next to each belief something to reassure that voice, like you would a child or beloved pet. Maybe even give that voice a name (Dr. Daniel Amen does this, in his book Change Your Brain Every Day).

If you need to cry, cry. If you need to shout, shout. Let whatever comes up out. Then, go do something you enjoy.

Day 7: Freeing Beliefs

Yesterday was likely quite intense. Today, perhaps less so.

Take a look at all the limiting beliefs you wrote down yesterday. Our job now is to reframe them. Why? Because limiting beliefs, though in place to protect us, actually end up preventing us from stepping out of our comfort zone and enjoying new experiences.

We need to reassure that little voice, so that it feels ready to get on the mat frequently, ready to move, ready to breathe, ready to sit still, and ready to fully experience all the benefits of yoga.

How do we do that? By reframing them. To do this we need to:

  • Look for evidence to prove the veracity of the limiting beliefs. You might be pleasantly surprised at how little there is.
  • Tell yourself that you and you alone are in control of your thoughts. Past events no longer have power over you.
  • Talk to someone you trust (be that a loved one or qualified professional) about the beliefs you hold.
  • Rewrite the beliefs to embody a little more hope and positivity. For me, with regard to establishing a yoga routine, this generally takes the shape of parroting Glennon Doyle and stating “I can do hard things”. Additional reframes I have used include:
    • “I consistently invest in my future self”
    • “As much as possible, I live by ‘curiosity over judgment’, and yoga allows me to get curious”
    • “I am courageous enough to try, and have faith that one day that courage will have transformed into confidence”

PRO TIP: Take some time to reframe your beliefs. You might need a few extra days to go through this and be prepared for it to take a bit of an emotional toll. Have your support system at hand so you can talk things through if you need to. 

the difference between discipline and motivation

3. Discipline vs Motivation: how to show up for class

OK, so now you can take a deep breath and sigh it all out. The hard part is over.

This step involves very little action and a little bit of contemplation.

Now that we have given ourselves a hefty mindset reset, we need to continue on this self improvement journey. We need to actually show up for class to allow us to have our unique experience with yoga.

To do this, we need to understand the difference between the benefits of motivation and discipline.

Day 8: Their influence on a yoga routine

In short, motivation is your fairweather friend. She turns up to the party late and unannounced, usually because she heard someone famous would be there, and then leave without so much as a hug goodbye. She then ghosts you for a while until the next party. That said, she is a lot of fun to have around when she graces you with her presence. She can make you feel like anything is possible, and you try things you’ve never even considered before.

Discipline, by contrast, you ride-or-die. She is nowhere near as flamboyant as motivation, but she is consistent and always holds you accountable. She is what gets you through the tough times, and is there (albeit with a rather bland expression) to celebrate your successes. Disciplines asks for commitment in return. We can only give her that if we can understand our “why”, and overcome our excuses, misconceptions, and limiting beliefs first.

For a consistent yoga routine, we need both. We need the occasional spark of motivation to complement the steadily glowing embers of discipline.

FUN FACT: In yoga philosophy, discipline is called “Tapas”. So, by developing discipline, you are practicing yoga – you are practicing tapas. 

Today’s homework consists of two steps.

  • Read this article about motivation and discipline
  • Consider several areas of your life where you are disciplined, that you could attach your yoga practice to. For example, I am disciplined with my morning skin-care routine. I could attach my yoga practice to this, by practicing just before. Alternatively, I am disciplined with a bi-weekly long walk. I could practice yoga just before this, and then reap the benefits of a clear mind on my walk.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be daily. Once a week is enough for now – a little bit of yoga goes a long way.

a simple home yoga space

4. Logistics: how to make your yoga practice unique to you

Personal experience has shown me the importance of this section.

When we start something new, we often go all out (hello motivation, my old friend), only to burn out fairly rapidly. This, in part, is due to setting unrealistic expectations and putting pressure on ourselves to overperform.

In order to be successful with our yoga routine we need to get realistic. And to get realistic, we first need a deep understanding of:

  1. Why we are doing this
  2. What is holding us back
  3. How we can be consistent

So, this is why this category comes after the previous three!

Day 9: The who, what, when, and where of a yoga routine

This category probably won’t take that long. All you need is your trusty pen and paper (or note-taking app) and whatever you record your schedule on. I am as analog as it gets so pen and paper for me, alongside my wall calendar that is color-coded like a Virgo on steroids.

If your daily life is the same as the daily lives of most of the world, it is probably madly busy. This is why we need to be realistic about how much yoga we can do.

Time Considerations

Look at your schedule for the next month and answer the following questions:

  1. Realistically, how often can you practice yoga? If this changes each week, go for the lowest number. (Discipline asks that “1” is the lowest, not “0”)!
  2. Realistically, what time of day can you practice yoga? This also might look different and that is OK. Just make a note of it for each week.
  3. Realistically, how long can you practice yoga? Again, this might look different each week, so go for the shortest time. Right now we are not focused on sculpting the “perfect” splits, just establishing a solid yoga routine. If it’s five minutes, great.

Space Considerations

Then, put the calendar aside and look around your space.

  1. Realistically, where could you practice yoga? Essentially, you want somewhere with some bare wall, 2m x 3m of floor space (hard surfaced or a low-pile carpet is fine), and without any low-hanging lights or other ceiling fixtures. If it is low in traffic (children, pets, other beings) that would help. This is your little safe space for some well-earned me time.
  2. Identify two or three places in your space that you could use. Why two or three? One thing that can topple any well-laid plan is finding your designated space occupied by a snoozing feline. And we all know you move a sleeping cat at your peril. Have a Plan B and Plan C.
  3. For some people, it helps to have a motivational quote in their space, to encourage them to get on the mat. Personally, I don’t. If I did, it would probably be something from Winnie the Pooh to remind me to stay in the present moment. This space essentially is your own private yoga studio.
  4. Check out this article for how to set up your home yoga space for some extra considerations.

Clothes Considerations

Now, go to your closet.

  1. Pick out something loose-fitting and comfy that is easy for you to move in. Put them in a basket or storage box, and put that in your chosen practice space. Add in a blanket, towel, a couple of blocks (or sturdy books), and a strap (or belt), and your yoga space is ready and waiting with your props and outfit.

PRO TIP: lightweight pajamas make a great yoga practice outfit, especially if you’re keen on integrating restorative poses into your routine. I roll out of bed in a t-shirt and loose shorts straight onto my yoga mat on good days. 

plan your yoga routine a month in advance

5. Getting creative to ensure you turn up to yoga class

It would be a real shame to have put in all this work so far, only to fall at the last hurdle. So many yoga students practicing at home do, though. Planning in advance is key, as it is a great way to stay accountable and assuage any excuses that inevitably rear their heads.

This step is important. It is a wonderful way to alleviate some of the mental load of deciding what is the next class you want to take.

Day 10: Planning a month in advance

As a Virgo, this is my favorite step. You’ll need access to YouTube, and you’re preferred calendar. If you are digitally minded, this might be your google calendar. If you’re a pen-to-paper gal, this might be your wall calendar. For the latter, you might want some mini post-it notes at hand.

YouTube is saturated with online classes. This can contribute to overwhelm, paralyzing us before we even begin an asana practice. the next few steps help to overcome this.

Get friendly with YouTube

Look back over your notes from day 9. For each day that you identified as one that you could practice yoga, consider the other activities of the day. This will inform the types of yoga classes you search for.

  • If it is a busy day, you’ll want a calming yoga practice. Something like yin yoga or restorative yoga would be good, especially if it is at the end of the day. Perhaps you might even forgo physical practice and focus on breath work.
  • For the less busy days, something more dynamic like a Hatha yoga class would work.
  • If you’re looking to target a particular area of the body, want to work towards certain yoga poses like Child’s pose, or want to ease some aches and pains (like lower back pain), then make a note of a specific theme like that.
  • Make a note of some memorable classes or skillful teachers you’ve experienced online before.

Then, get onto YouTube and begin searching for classes. YouTube is a search engine, so you can get really specific to suit your needs.

For example: “15-minute yoga for lower back pain” or “20-minute hatha yoga morning practice”. If you have a preferred teacher, add their name in, too.

Set a timer of one minute for each search. Within that minute choose two classes. Add them to a playlist – it might help to label that playlist either by month or by category. For example, “March 2023 Yoga Routine”, or “”20-minute evening yoga routine”. This is up to you- you can create playlists that make sense to you.

Once you have enough classes saved to fit the number of times you can practice for this month, take a break from the screen and go make a cuppa.


PRO TIP: If you have identified that you can practice every day, choose no more than 10 classes. This means you will likely repeat one class three times. Repetition in yoga is no bad thing. You get to be really curious about how yoga poses feel different on different days.  It also helps with establishing discipline.

Get friendly with your calendar

Next, if you are using a digital calendar, add the link for each video to the days you will be practicing, at the time you designated on Day 9. Be sure to turn on notifications to further help keep you accountable. If you’re working with a wall calendar or planner, and post-it notes, then jot down the name of the saved yoga class and the playlist it is saved under on a post-it note, and stick that note to the calendar.

Why post-it notes? Life happens. Sometimes things happen that require our attention. Skipping a class is truly unavoidable. A post-it note is easily transferable to a different say or a “save for later” page in your planner.

Additionally, if you’re enjoying the classes you’ve chosen, you can simply transfer the post-it notes to the next month, saving you some time when you repeat this step the following month.

PRO TIP: Schedule in a day the following month to repeat Day 10! If the idea of doing this fills you with dread, then attach this activity to another one that you do enjoy – a process that James Clear talks a lot about in his book Atomic Habits

Ellie Smith Yoga non-toxic yoga mat on hardwood floor


One simple thing that many students have found useful is to keep a personal yoga journal. This includes jotting down before and after class a couple of sentences about:

  • how you’re feeling
  • what came up for you
  • whether or not you resonate with the teacher
  • any questions you have about things the teacher said or did that confused you
  • or even any “aha” moments that you had.

This helps you to really make the practice your own and can bring a little bit of fun to your yoga routine.

If you’re interested in a safe little corner of the internet to pose these questions, you are very welcome to join my Facebook group. We are a friendly bunch and there is no such thing as a foolish question.

key takeaways for how to keep a yoga routine

What’s next?

WOW! That is a lot of work you have done there, my friend. If you’ve gotten through all that, give yourself a hug and a bit of a break. Svadhyaya (self-study) is no easy feat!

You have really gone deep in laying the foundations for a sustainable yoga routine. There will be times when it gets tough again. But, that’s OK. Now you have the process in place to get back on track. Bookmark this post so you can come back to it whenever you need to.

Additionally, track your progress using the checklist made specifically for this post by clicking the button below.

Let me know what comes up for you – you can contact me here if you have any questions about this process.

And that’s it! Until next week, much love.