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If only every month were May. May the moment of Springing Sprouting Bursting life. May, my emerald birthday month.  May should be all year round.

May is Land Yoga‘s annual perfect attendance challenge and boy do the yoga practitioners come out. They come out for one, ok, two reasons: a STAR on our chart and the word… CHALLENGE.  That’s it. I’m always delinquent to announce any real prizes and even when I do, they are admit-tingly lame. A star on a chart.  A t-shirt. A bag. A chance to win a FREE month at Land Yoga.  (Okay, that’s a good one!)

May challenge speaks to our child-self. The little one in us that still wants to succeed, find approval, meet a goal.  We all have that part of ourselves and star stickers certainly do bring it out.  But what to do during the other 11 months of the year to stay energized, motivated, and improving?  In the Ashtanga Yoga practice there is a strong relationship between the teacher and the student which creates a healthy pressure for the student to show up.  Many teachers even require their students to practice a minimum amount of days per week in order to study with them.  Still, some fall off the bandwagon.  Some have no regular teacher and are doing self practice at home.  And those of you not studying Ashtanga Yoga may not have this positive pressure at all and truly need to self motivate.  How do we make every month May?

Here are four ways to stay motivated in your yoga practice all year round:

1. Trick Yourself

Imagine your teacher or someone who motivates you is in the room.  I have a very strong imagination which I use for many aspects of the yoga practice.  When I need a push I envision my teacher in front of me, even hearing his voice.

2. Create your own Challenge

You don’t have wait for us!  Set up a challenge for yourself each month. When I was learning Ashtanga Yoga’s Primary Series, I created tons of secret challenges for myself.  No one knew what I was working on, but I was deep in my own 30 day challenge all the time.

3. Reward Yourself

New bag. Red shoes. Day off.  Know yourself and choose rewards that really work for you. I like fancy restaurants, but I don’t pick that all the time. Vary the rewards and keep them proportional to the goals you set.  Give yourself something huge when you complete a challenge that was particularly, well, challenging.

4. Take it in

We all know that the real reward of a challenge completed is the positive change we’ve succeeded in making in ourselves.  It’s extremely important to acknowledge and sit in that good feeling. When you begin to realize how much better you feel after making healthy choices, you won’t need challenges or rewards anymore.  You will be motivated naturally and self improvement will come easily.