When my 12-yr old son was skateboarding and trying to make his way down a rather large hill with some trepidation, (in more traffic than I was comfortable with –hence the yoga) an older college kid blew by him on a board and shouted, “COMMIT, MAN!” As much as I wanted to ring that guy’s neck, he was right. My son was stopping and starting to much, losing momentum, over-thinking it. So, on the cusp of March 2018, as many of you are looking at your New Year’s resolutions in the rearview mirror, my message to you, yoga dudes: COMMIT! You will get the results you want– I’ll see to that. But, I can’t do my job if you don’t do yours: sign-up, show-up, COMMIT!
I’m going to be brutally honest with you and share what I’ve learned over 15 years of teaching yoga and studying human behavior around self-care/exercise. If it somehow feels personal, please don’t take it as such. This is just human nature.
Ever wonder how people successfully use yoga to maintain their weight, health and wellness? You know the people I’m talking about. They are adept at yoga, but not necessarily “superstars,” they look “in-shape” and seem to be pretty chipper.
They’re the ones, that whenever you get around to going to class, they always seem to be there…Ah-ha! Here’s the first clue. The people that use yoga to stay healthy and avoid injury/ illness SHOW UP for class; and, this has a snowball effect. Because they do yoga consistently, they have fewer injuries, aches, pains, don’t become sick as much (scientifically proven: yogis’ immune systems function better), and therefore THEY MISS FEWER CLASSES! They keep coming, while others get derailed with sprains, strains, colds, flu. Those derailments are what get you “off the horse” and few people get back on.
I’d like to say something else about life’s derailments…sometimes, we WANT an excuse!!! There’s something called “aversion behavior” (Dvesha in sanskrit) and I see it a lot, so I know it when I see it in myself and others. Sometimes we WANT something to come up and keep us from our practice. We would rather drive a friend to the airport, meet for drinks–or be there to let the cable company in. The truth of human nature is we don’t want to put in the work and we’re programmed to live in our heads /on our screens, not in our bodies anymore. The mind is scanning the horizon, all day, just looking for excuses. Maybe your shoulder is a little sore–better stay home. I assure you, atrophy is never the answer. I’m sure your abs and diaphragm work just fine!
If you have an ache or pain, it’s probably from LACK of movement, sedentary lifestyle–not overwork. Got a case of the sniffles? As long as you don’t have a fever come and do what you can. Maybe you boost your immune system and prevent it from getting worse. The more time I spend in yoga, the less time I spend at the Dr’s. It is easier though to sit in a waiting room and scroll on your phone, I’ll give you that. Maybe deep down, on some level, managing illness is just more palatable than dedicating yourself to prevention. In short, you can’t get out of your own way.
Back pain, joint issues, tweaks, depression, anxiety, weight gain, are all so PREVENTABLE through yoga. I sometimes have to refrain from wanting to SHAKE PEOPLE. So, if you’re one of those once-in-a-while yogis, please consider this a “gentle-shake” from someone who wants to help you take your health/wellness up a level. And if you’re one of my “regulars” then let’s level-up again in 2018!
Finally, don’t think you need some big studio/gym/ brand to be successful. Here’s the thing about “Big Yoga” : it’s a recipe for procrastination. If you do manage to get to class 1-2 times a week, your next battle becomes plateauing. You see, in those non-commital environments, instructors have to make every class accessible to the once-in-a-while crowd, because that’s who those programs attract: people who think, “Well, if there are classes running all day, every day, surely I’ll get there…somehow?” Moreover, you don’t really have community as it’s never the same group twice; and, community plays a major role in accountability.
Did you know most people drop-out of unlimited programs within 3 months but continue to PAY the year-long contract? Then, they’re relieved when it’s over; at least they don’t have the financial guilt. Furthermore, if they do continue, they attend, on average 1-2 times per week. And guess what… the ones that “stick” tend to study at the same time every week. So, do you really need to support all that 24/7 infrastructure? No!
What you do need to do is pick a class time, sign up, then show up. Your “aversion brain” will kick in to be sure. Notice if you perk up when you see it start to snow late in the afternoon and tell yourself, ” Traffic will be tough so I probably won’t be able to make it to yoga tonight.” STOP! Identify the perp: AVERSION BEHAVIOR. Once, you I.D. it, you have power over it. And you can reframe your self-talk to something more like , “I’m on to you, aversion brain, but I’m going to get there anyway. I know if I can just get there, my mood will change. Just because I don’t want to do yoga now, at this moment, in the office, doesn’t mean I won’t want to do it later, on my mat, surrounded by supportive, friendly faces.”
What if you resolve to notice “aversion behavior” in 2018 ? Who knows, maybe all those other resolutions, past and present, will fall into place. Try it. Then, COMMIT, MAN!