Small Steps

Small steps lead to BIG THINGS

How small, consistent steps can create big and long-lasting changes if you want to build a yoga or meditation practice, says Dawn Wright

When you want to start a new habit, whether that’s yoga, or running regularly so you can take part in a 10k, or beginning a daily meditation practice, it can seem overwhelming. But
if you start with small but consistent steps it becomes so much more doable.
If you take the example of meditation, people think they need to start with 30 minutes a day, but that’s just not realistic for many folks. Why not start with 2-3 minutes every day instead? If you focus on the reasons why you want to do it, such as becoming calmer, reducing stress, increasing your focus or just wanting to be nicer to be around, then that gives you the incentive to stick to it.
Most of us don’t want to cultivate a daily meditation practice so we can sit there contemplating the power of the universe for half an hour, but we do want something that will make a tangible difference to our lives and 2-3 minutes is enough to achieve that.
For those people who say they are too busy to even find 2 minutes I would refer to the old Zen saying: “You should meditate for half an hour every day unless you are really busy then you should do it for an hour.”
It’s precisely because you feel so busy that you need to meditate. We all have the same number of hours every day, it’s up to us what we do with them. In our culture we tend to wear busyness as a badge of honour. There will always be laundry to do but everyone can find two minutes in the day. You probably spend that amount of time on the toilet or brushing your teeth. Most people certainly spend a lot more time than that scrolling mindlessly through their Instagram feed which almost certainly doesn’t make them feel better.

So there’s no excuse. You can meditate on the train or washing up. You don’t have to be in a quiet room sitting with crossed legs like the archetypal yogi.
Many people like to stick to the same time every day but then if you confine yourself to a particular time and then miss it for whatever reason, you might feel that you can’t do it until the next day.  Try making an appointment with yourself at the beginning of the day like you would for a meeting. If you arranged to meet a friend for coffee you would stick to it unless you had a really good reason not to.
And if you do manage to stick to it for a few weeks but then something happens and you skip it for a few days, don’t despair. We are all human and we mess up, or perhaps it really was unavoidable. But tomorrow is always another day.
Don’t beat yourself up about what you haven't done, congratulate yourself for what you have done and focus on the benefits you experienced such as better relationships and feeling calmer - that will give you the incentive to start again.
We need to break the cycle of mania followed by nothing. When we really stick to something and remain consistent it leads to the butterfly effect and it is this which creates a ripple effect throughout our entire life.


Dawn Wright is a yoga teacher and yoga teacher trainer (

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.