“Were you always flexible?”
I get this question all the time. Most people are shocked when I share that I am not naturally flexible nor was I EVER flexible before I started yoga. They are looking for some surefire, “magical” formula on how to get into this pose or that pose. The thing is, there’s no “easy button” you can press for instant results. But there ARE step-by-step systems you can use to make your transition into yoga a bit easier.
Yoga works. And it is for EVERYONE, no matter how small, how large, how heavy, how curvy, or how flat. It’s simply a matter of doing the practice. With practice you will become more flexible. (You’ll love being able to touch your toes from any angle!) With practice you will become stronger and more confident. With practice you will become more focused, present, and mindful. (You’ll love how your body feels!)
But this isn’t just about flexibility. Same as it isn’t about holding a handstand or looking graceful while doing “lord of the dance” pose. It isn’t even about the six pack you’ve been dreaming of. Yoga goes beyond the physical.
Yoga helps with your mental concentration, your productivity woes, your memory and intellectual capacity. It helps with insomnia and depression, and helps to bring about self-control.
Once you start getting into the practice you’ll notice how everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is connected. How the food you eat makes such a difference in your mood, your activeness, and your thoughts. How maintaining a daily yoga schedule keeps you in shape, strengthens your focus level, and keeps you energetic to create more, produce more, and do more. Consequently, positive outcomes will begin flourishing in your work and personal life. You’ll even notice how yoga reduces your stress level.
But just like anything, yoga can be quite hard to get into. I’m sure it’s hard to find the time, hard to find the patience to sit through a pose. Some people find this type of physical activity just too plain boring to get through.
Maybe this is you.
Maybe you are struggling because you don’t feel strong or flexible enough. Maybe it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. I’ve been there. And I’m here now to tell you that that feeling of not being enough will pass. Every time you get on your mat you take a step away from that feeling. All it takes is finding time, however small, to breathe into a flow of poses that feel good to YOU. What you want to do is create a system for yourself. A system that will allow you to get on your mat with ease and without putting weight on your willpower to get you through it. Your system is what you do on a regular basis. Your system is your habits.
“Systems are for winners.” – Scott Adams
Ease your way towards daily body maintenance. Begin by finding ways to be active on a regular basis. Practice yoga, stretch, meditate, move around, play a sport, dance, run, kick a ball, speed walk, swim, work on breathing exercises, whatever! Pick one and carve out some time. Or pick 2 or 3 and do each for a shorter period of time. The key is to be active every day until daily activity becomes a HABIT. Even just 10 minutes of stretches a day has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. (This 10 minute commitment rewires our brain’s responses to stress triggers.) You can practice meditation and yoga in short bursts and you will, in time, make good progress.
Find the style that works for you. There’s a meme going around that goes, “If you find yoga boring, you’re doing it wrong.” I find this funny because there is some truth to it. All things aren’t for everyone. My style of yoga might not work for you. Another instructor’s style might not work for me. Please don’t take offense, but I don’t like vinyasa, bikram, or find it necessary to do hot yoga. It took a long time for me to figure out that there are other styles that I can enjoy. But when I did find that style-I found myself practicing every day. I found myself getting on my mat automatically. Yoga became part of my daily routine. Once I found the style I loved, I enjoyed pushing myself and working on my body maintenance DAILY. I am confident that you can also find a style of yoga that works for you. That way, you can evolve with a yoga routine that works for your specific mindset and body in a natural and easy way. If you find the style of yoga that works for you, you’ll want to practice more often which will translate into habit-forming daily activity.
Practice at the same time every day. Don’t worry about how long or how little you practice on a given day. All that matters is that you made yoga a daily habit. Keeping your health up to par is a lifestyle choice. It involves creating a system and that means doing it at the same time every day until it becomes a LIFESTYLE. See, to stay consistent we have to TRAIN ourselves to become consistent. Humans are naturally going to go for the easier option. Meaning, if we didn’t HAVE to work, most of us wouldn’t work. If we didn’t HAVE to exercise, most of us wouldn’t exercise. If it weren’t logical to have self-control, we wouldn’t at all. We were trained to have self-control since the coming of age. So it’s our duty as independent beings to train ourselves to DO WHAT WE SAY WE ARE GOING TO DO. If you are the type of person that doesn’t like to exercise, then training yourself to practice at the same time every day will rewire your brain to think: “This is who I am now. I practice every day. I am a yogi.” The trick here is to practice at the same time every day. This way you won’t have to use a single brain cell figuring out when and where to practice.
Once yoga has become a habit, make it a commitment. Dedicate 4 hours a week to the practice of yoga. The world needs you at your best, and at your best requires you to have good health. Yoga, diet, and sleep influences your mood, your productivity, your mental concentration, and your creativeness. Yoga releases endorphins that give you a direct feelings of happiness. This feeling alone influences more productivity because if you are feeling good, you’ll do more good. Not to mention that yoga helps you sleep and work better. It is a mental escape from whatever stress you’re experiencing. Occupying your mind physically and mentally at the same time keeps you present, focused, fit, more optimistic, and full of energy.