Train Yourself to Do Yoga Everyday – Advice from a Recovering Binge Yogi

Living Yoga Tapas Yoga


Having a daily yoga practice is not that hard. But letting go of ideas and convictions around what that daily practice should look like can be messy, emotional, ego-ridden, and sometimes mind-blowingly hard.

The main reason people struggle to develop a daily yoga practice is because they are holding on to some idealized version of that experience will look like. People often blur the lines around what it means to practice yoga and what it means to exercise. Yoga is a collection of tools intended to support human well-being and happiness, and some of those tools exercise the body. If you really want a consistent daily yoga practice, you need to let go of the idea that your yoga practice will also be your exercise routine. Your yoga practice will need to overcome illness, injury, and fatigue. For most people to develop a consistent daily practice, they have to be willing to start at a place that might feel painfully small and almost pointless.


Because, over the long-term, smaller consistent amounts of yoga are more beneficial than longer bouts done less regularly.

Years ago, I was more of a binge yogi. I would go through phases where I did copious amounts of yoga, attending multiple classes a day and reveling in the high of my practice. Then, a few weeks or so later, I would go a whole week without doing any yoga because I felt like I was just too busy to fit it in.

The teacher training program that I took in 2009 placed a very strong emphasis on practicing every day, and with my binge yogi tendencies, I found myself floundering under that demand. Moderately practicing yoga wasn’t nearly as sexy; I felt like trying to do so didn’t honour me and my rhythms. At that time, a different teacher of mine taught me more about tapas and the importance of consistency and suggested a 5 minute daily practice to start.

It changed my life. Five minutes a day was doable and I did it. And, I kept doing it. Over time, my minimum daily practice has built up to 40 minutes, and it still blows my mind that I have been able to achieve that baseline consistency in my practice. I don’t question the things I used to question. I just do my practice.

I often write about the power of consistency because it has been a striking force of transformation in my life. The key is having the courage and the humility to meet yourself in the place where you are truly able to be consistent.


To start, your daily practice should be determined by your answer to this question:

On your most busy, stressful, and overwhelming day, how much time do you have to practice yoga?

Be really honest when you answer that question. For most people, I suggest 5 minutes to start, but for some people, it might be best to start with 1 minute. Often people respond to my 5 minute suggestion from the motivation and enthusiasm that comes with beginnings and say, “I think I can do 10-15 minutes.”

I raise my eyebrows, stare intently, and say, “Really?”

The aspect of the yoga practice we are working with is tapas. A translation of tapas is: consistency in striving towards your goals. The key word here is consistency, because consistency builds commitment. The more consistently you do something, the more likely you are to keep doing it.

So, in beginning a daily practice, the most important part of the practice is consistency, and the key to achieving consistency is, again, realistically answering this question:

On your most busy, stressful, and overwhelming day, how much time do you have to practice yoga?

When I look at you and say, “Really?” You should be able to confidently respond, “Yes, Sarah, I will be able to do this much yoga every single day.”

Once you have determined the minimum length of your daily practice, I recommend committing to a specific type of practice for that time. For example, your daily practice might be five minutes of pranayama (breath work) or five minutes shavasana or two minutes of asana focused on poses that stretch your hamstrings.

I suggest having a journal or calendar to record your practice and hold yourself accountable. Something I often do is visit to create a printable PDF calendar.

The final step is simply not going to bed until you have marked off your practice for the day. If you come home from the bar at 2am in the morning and you haven’t done your five minute meditation, then you take 5 minutes and mediate.

Can you do more yoga than this during the day?

Absolutely! You can indulge in hours of yoga practice if you have the time and desire. This approach is about building a consistent foundation of yoga to develop a daily commitment.



Why Practice Yoga Every Day?

Philosophy Svadhyaya Tapas

sarah jamieson yoga

When I say “practice yoga every day,” I mean: do what resonates in your heart as yoga – whatever fosters presence, whether it is running, yoga asana (postures), playing music, breath work, practicing compassion, cooking or painting.

With whatever you consider to be your yoga practice, I am sure there are many answers to the question: Why?

For example, some reasons to practice yoga asana include:

  • Increase flexibility and build strength
  • Reduce stress and increase sense of calm
  • Develop body awareness
  • Reduce and prevent pain
  • Manage weight
  • Breathe better

But this focus on doing yoga every day is less about the benefits of the practice itself. It isn’t about the lovely long hamstrings or fitting into your skinny clothes; it is about building tapas.

Tapas is the Spanish word for “appetizers,” but in Sanskrit it means something very different. Tapas is sometimes translated as “fierce discipline” or as “burning enthusiasm.” Ultimately, it is about cultivating an unquestioned commitment to your practice.

And practicing every day is how you cultivate this unquestioned commitment. Consistency builds commitment.

At this point, you might be thinking, “But I have tried to practice every day and it didn’t get easier – it got harder.”

My guess is that you made the same mistake that most people make: You tried to do too much every day.

Central to the practice of tapas is learning to live with your most compelling priorities in mind, which means, unfortunately, that it is not about doing everything you want to do every day. Tapas requires that you weed through your “To Do” lists and your grandiose visions for what you will accomplish each day/week/year, and deepen your understanding of what most nourishes you and supports you in living the life you want to live.

If your daily yoga practice involves traditional practices such as yoga asana, meditation or pranayama, drop-in yoga classes can be a wonderful place to deepen your knowledge, connect with others, and give over to the guidance of a teacher, but they are not a sustainable way to develop a daily practice.

Whether it is time constraints, health, location, energy or finances, there will always be things that prevent you from attending a class every single day. Developing a home-based practice is essential to practicing every day. Your practice needs to have elements you can practice when you are sick with the flu, and your practice needs to be manageable enough that you can make time for it even on the days when you feel like you don’t have any free time.

Yoga has been a powerful tool for transformation in my life, and unquestionably, one of the most positive shifts has been a result of developing tapas. Learning to shape my practice into one that is manageable and sustainable throughout the roller coaster ride that life can be has taught me to develop unquestioning commitment in other areas of my life, and it has ultimately led me to a sense of freedom that I had historically been looking for in all the wrong places.

I want to help other people to find the freedom I have found in unquestioned commitment.

For the rest of the month of January, I am offering a special double-private session – where we meet twice 30-40 days apart – and set up a sustainable daily yoga practice for you.

All the details are below.

Sarah Jamieson

Two 75 minute private classes for $100.00

  • For the first session, I will come to your home and together we will carve out a practice space and develop a realistic and sustainable daily practice for you
  • After this session, we will set up the date for the second session, which ideally will be 30-40 days after the first
  • I will come back for the second session during which we will reflect on your experience with the practice and further refine it to meet your goals and suit your lifestyle

To arrange your private classes, please email me at

How to Keep Your Resolutions

Svadhyaya Tapas Yoga

Sarah Jamieson Yoga

I feel like I am being bombarded with the message that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work. I even shared an article on my Facebook page recently titled “10 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Keep.” I shared it because I liked the sentiment behind the resolutions the writer suggested, but in reflection I push back against the title of the article because it implies that there are resolutions you can’t keep. I believe any resolution can be kept, and I want to begin explaining why by looking at the definition of the word resolution.

In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, there is a long list of different definitions for resolutions, but the ones that are applicable to the way we use it in the New Year include:

  • The act or process of resolving
  • The act of determining
  • Something that is resolved

To dig deeper, there are also a number of definitions for the word resolve but the relevant one is:

  • To reach a firm decision about

Thus, a resolution, whether it is made in January or June, is simply the act of reaching a firm decision. So what is all the fuss about? How can a firm decision not work? Something is firmly decided and it is done. Right?

Not always, but does that have anything to do with the resolution – or does it have more to do with the people making the resolution?

January hits and we suddenly feel empowered to change everything we don’t like about our lives. We embark upon ridiculous and unsustainable diets and fitness routines, and two months later, when we’ve fallen back into our usual ways, we say, “Ah well, resolutions never last…” And, then the next time we resolve to eat healthy and exercise (whether in January or June), we do the exact same thing.

You’ve heard it before, but it’s very relevant here: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

The key to keeping your resolutions is doing things differently. The yogic practice of svadhyaya, which is commonly translated as “self-study,” offers a great place to start. Begin by asking yourself important questions like these ones:

  • When have I been unsuccessful in holding to firm decisions I have made in the past? And, why?
  • When have I been successful in holding to firm decisions I have made in the past? And, why?
  • How much change is it realistic for me to take on at this point in my life?
  • What are the most important changes I want to make?
  • Am I able to see the value in taking small steps towards where I want to be?
  • Who are the people in my life that I can ask to support me in the changes I want to make?

Humans are creatures of habit, and breaking your habits requires more than the excitement and sense of renewal that comes with the New Year. It requires reflection, honesty and patience.

A decision – whether to eat well, exercise regularly or spend more time with family and friends – is never made only once. And, being honest with yourself about how challenging it is to make the same decision day-in and day-out will allow you to recognize and better prepare to face the challenge ahead.

The tradition of sharing our hopes for the New Year is a beautiful one and I would hate to see it lost to the propagation of the idea that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work. Instead, let’s collectively acknowledge the reflection, honesty and patience required to keep New Year’s Resolutions and deeply celebrate the human instinct to make change in times of renewal.

As an addendum to this post, I have written quite a bit in the past about how the more regularly and consistently you commit to a decision, the less frequently you have to make it. If you are interested in learning more about the idea of consistency building commitment, please read my blog posts that address the yogic practice of tapas:


Sarah Jamieson

Photo Credit: Chris Yakimov