You know the drill. You start out all gung-ho - going to yoga class 3 or 4 times a week, getting up early to meditate, and everything is going great! But then, one or two weeks into the new regimen, you get sick, or go on vacation, or something knocks you off your routine. Once the routine is interrupted, it is unbelievably easy to just let it slide. Before you know it, you haven't seen the inside of a yoga studio in a month and your meditation cushion has become a dog bed. We all struggle with discipline. It is a very human trait to want to make yourself better, and then fight yourself the whole way. WHY IS THAT? Well, there are no easy answers. But the way to begin is to understand your mind. And that understanding comes from inner contemplation which you do during - surprise! - yoga and meditation. See how I did that? Sneaky, huh?
To begin to change self-defeating patterns you have to understand your own mind. One of the most insightful things I have learned about myself through meditation is that the minute I tell myself "you need to change!" Then there is that evil twin part of me that immediately wants to fight any change. So begins the war within.
When we think about making ourselves do certain things because we need to be better, we are setting ourselves up for failure. It is because the energy behind this thinking is negative. Needing to "whip ourselves into shape" is inherently aggressive and mean. Nobody responds well to this type of treatment. So don't be mean to yourself. You, above all, deserve your compassion. Now I'm not talking about idiot compassion, where you "spoil" yourself by eating Oreos and drinking a bottle of wine every night. I'm talking about loving yourself enough to do what's best for you - just like you would for anyone you truly love.
Learning to be consistent in your practice has a different energy, when it comes from a place of compassion and self-love. Think of the difference in your attitude when you do something good for someone you love. That compassion shines through and makes the task something you want to do.
Get rid of words like I should, I have to, I need to. Instead, think about your yoga and meditation practice with the attitude you would have when you are giving your child or your pet a bath or medicine when they're sick. You're doing it with love, and trying to make them feel better because you love them.
When you approach everything you do from a place of compassion, you can't go wrong. It is the guiding light that will always show you the right way.