Habits and Yoga

Do you ever notice a disconnect between what you say you do, and what you actually do? I, for example, say that I practice yoga, but realistically make it into the yoga studio less then 3 times a month.

Gandhi on the Boardwalk by Adam Morris on 500px.com

I was reflecting on this in December while I was in India, wondering how I could “get” myself into a healthy yoga routine. The determination to bring about sudden change for a renewed commitment often fails, in the same way that the new years resolutions typically are forgotten by February. And determination against your natural will will often have other detrimental side effects.

I know successful change contains two key components:

  1. Build a habit.
  2. Find the joy in it.

So how does this apply?

Over the summer I found myself in a similar review of my meditation practice. I love it in theory, but just couldn’t get myself to sit and meditate for an hour in the morning. Just the idea of waking up early felt like a huge task, joyfully replaced by a bit of extra sleep.

So I decided that was too much, and asked myself, “what about 5 minutes?”. That’s nothing, right? Even if I’m running late, I can spare 5 minutes. And so began something easy. Once the habit was in place, it started to grow. First to 15 minutes, then to 20. Now I’m meditating 30 minutes in the morning. And it comes naturally… I don’t have to force myself.

The second piece is finding the joy in it. When something feels too overwhelming, than it probably is, even if you can force yourself to do it in the short term. An article I read on linked-in gave me a new perspective on yoga: How a Yoga Workshop Helped Me Manage a Career Change.

Oddly, I read this at the time I was redefining my meditation routine, but it has stuck with me since. If you’re not enjoying it, why are you doing it? Joy seems to be the single best indicator that we’re on the right path, but we’ve become so addicted to achieving something different, to working hard, that we tend to forget this means anything.

Bottom line, look for the joy in what you do.

That given, I’ve started practicing yoga in the morning for 5 minutes. I have a ways to go before I’m back in the studio at least 3 times a week, but at least I’m building a foundation to grow on.