Friday, January 1, 2010

Yoga and New Year's resolutions

I started my practice of yoga as a result of my New Year's resolution in 1993.   It was a simple resolution -- just to "regularly take a yoga class at the YMCA", since we had just become members of the Ann Arbor YMCA, and I knew that there was a well-respected Iyengar Yoga program there.    I didn't really know what "Iyengar yoga" was, but I had read in the (now defunct) Ann Arbor News that B.K.S. Iyengar had visited Ann Arbor a few times, and that he presented the practice of yoga as a precise way to bring the body to good  health.  At that time, I was very intrigued with different "alternative" or "complementary" self-care modalities (herbal remedies, homeopathy, massage, etc.), and it appealed to me that Iyengar yoga could be a way for me to take charge of my own health.

I tell people that it was one of the easiest resolutions I've kept.    BUT, thinking back, that's not exactly true.   It took me about a year of taking classes before I realized that I wasn't going to quit.   A number of times during that first year, I remember that I really didn't want to go to class -- I had other things that I wanted to do or felt I needed to do.   But I made myself go, and always was glad I went.    After that first year, I didn't have to "make" myself go -- I eagerly looked forward to my classes and was disappointed when I couldn't attend.    It took me that long to become fully and strongly "hooked".   

I hear from students that they sometimes have to "make themselves" come to class too, but that they are so glad they did because they feel so much better afterward.   At some point, they may realize that they don't have to make themselves come anymore -- they want to attend and are disappointed it when they can't, just as I experienced.    It becomes a habit.

The next step for me, after establishing the habit of regularly attending classes, was to establish my own home practice.   That took a long time!    I'd start and stop over and over again.   I still felt I was progressing fairly well in class as long as I attended regularly.    But I noticed during the times I also practiced in between classes, my poses became much better.   I could go into them more deeply with better alignment, I could hold them for longer with ease, I could feel different parts of my body working in concert with other parts in a way I hadn't noticed before, and I felt great!    Then I'd "fall of the wagon" again, and sometimes it would take weeks or months to "get back on" again.

It took time and discipline to keep coming back to my own practice, but of course it's been well worth the effort!

New Year's resolutions are used to help us create a stronger intention of creating good habits.   Casual intentions don't work out too well.   It takes dedication to continue with these good intentions, especially when we lapse, but then hopefully we re-commit.   It's human nature to lapse.  The trick is not to get discouraged but to re-commit again and again and again until it becomes an ingrained habit.

Somewhere I read that it takes a minimum of 21 - 30 days of doing something to make it a habit.      But if we give in to the "don't want to do it today" impulses, THAT becomes a habit too, and that particular habit is a hard one to break!

For those of you who are attending my yoga classes, and who are interested in developing your own home practice, I'll be putting together an informal "30 Day Yoga Challenge" program to help you with that.    I'll have "intention sheets" that you can fill out, handouts for practice ideas, probably some tips on this blog, and I'll be available at different times before and after classes if you want extra help.   The "30 Day Yoga Challenge" will start on January 15.     

I'll be posting more info about this in a few days.   Stay tuned!

In the meantime, sign up for the Winter session!    And if you have friends who you think would enjoy a class at Harmony Yoga,  have them check out our website,

A Happy, Healthy New Year to you all!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.