Do this much exercise each day, and these types of exercises.
Drink 8 glasses of water a day. No, 12. No, make that 16, or 24. Do it, and don’t fail or else!
This time of year we’re given a lot of rules, especially if our goal is to eat better or get more exercise or just try to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
I think rules work for some people. They want a clear set of guidelines and succeed when they can check off boxes. But others chafe when given a set of rules. That would be me.
If someone says I can’t do something, or can’t eat a certain type of food, or need to give up caffeine, I instantly want to do the exact opposite.
So my goal is to find a plan and adapt it to my lifestyle and schedule at the moment.
Ashtanga is a good example. The “rules” of Ashtanga say that you do the series for 90 minutes a day first thing in the morning, six days a week. That just doesn’t work for me right now. So instead, I aim for the six days, but my practice is anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. I trust that my body and mind will adapt to where I will be devoting more time to my practice.
I’m also experimenting with Ayurveda, both in terms of food and also lifestyle. Today I went to a workshop with Julianne Englander at Yoga Barre in Shakopee and learned some great details about Ayurveda. Julianne talked about the morning routine, which if you did everything would probably take about an hour. I know that’s not anything I’m going to do right now. I’m going to start small, like getting up and scraping my tongue and washing my face — getting “clean” before heading to my mat. Julianne also said this is like a yoga practice — it develops over years.
Regarding my diet, there are just some things I’m not ready to give up yet. These include:
An occasional social alcoholic drink with friends
If you want to succeed in a diet or exercise routine or other lifestyle change, you have to make it work for YOU. Find something that sounds doable and that you’ll enjoy, but ADAPT from there. Remember, a small change is better than nothing. See how that small change goes and if you feel good, add more changes. Because the second you dislike something you for sure will stop doing it.
How have you adapted a diet or exercise program or lifestyle change to make it work for YOU?
You can only answer this question if you’ve tried it.
Like with anything, you’ll discover if you like it or dislike it only after you have tried it.
Did your mom or dad ever say to you about broccoli or Brussel sprouts or anything like that — “Just eat one bite, then you’ll know if you like it or not.” I bet they did! Or if you’re a parent, do you say this to your kids?
I’m offering a nine-week Ashtanga class at SunMoon Yoga Studios Jan. 17-March 14. I’m asking Ashtanga newbies to give it a try for the nine weeks. I don’t expect that at the end of the session, everyone will be an Ashtanga devotee. I fully expect some people will say, “This is not for me.” I love Ashtanga, but I don’t expect everyone else will love it, too. It’s challenging and structured and routine. That doesn’t appeal to everyone.
But all I ask is that if you’re curious, give it a try.
That goes for anything in this new year. What is your intuition telling you to do? Just try something new. You don’t have to commit to it — just try it.
“Take a look at each deck. Choose from the one that speaks to you,” Melanie says.
I kneel down, inspect a few cards, finding myself drawn to the ones that are colorful. A couple of the decks feature whimsical illustrations, which are cute, but for me maybe a little too cute. I spot the deck from which I drew last year, but want something different. When I see “Goddess Guidance,” I know that’s the deck for me.
I shuffle once, twice. I almost pick the top card right then, but something inside said to shuffle one more time — something about the number three felt important. I shuffle again, then I take the top card:
My heart sings. This card, this notion of blossoming, feels exactly right.
We might think of people blossoming in terms of adolescence. How often are girls said to “blossom” into womanhood? But just because we hit middle age, or even older, that doesn’t mean we don’t keep blossoming into new things.
For 2019, my plan is to delve deeper into Ashtanga. I want to continue to build a home practice that I’ve been doing for the last couple of months. I want to attend more workshops and trainings. I’m excited to be teaching Ashtanga at SunMoon Yoga Studios starting in a couple of weeks.
I also have learned more about Ayurveda in the last three weeks or so. I’ve been trying out recipes and am loving the plant-based diet. I want to learn even more about this practice.
As always, I’ll be reading and writing, learning new things that way, both about other people and events and also about myself.
This seems like a good year to focus on “blossoming.” I’ve made an effort to put negativity behind me in the last year, and by doing so I feel ready to grow.
But I like going to yoga classes for the camaraderie. I enjoy talking to others before and after class — at a class in Mankato, I know most of the people so it’s a time to catch up. At a studio where I don’t know anyone, that’s OK because we all share one interest so it’s pretty easy to make conversation.
What I like most is the energy that comes from a room of people practicing together. It’s powerful when you are able to synchronize movement and breath. You kind of feel like you’re one being.
The other day, I realized that I feel this same way in church. There’s powerful energy that is derived from people praying together and singing together.
I pray at home. But I want to come together with my “tribe,” too. Same with yoga. So much of my practice is solitary, so there are times I want to come together with like-minded people.
In both church and a yoga studio, I’m reminded that I’m part of something larger than myself. Everyone is looking within themselves and finding a measure of peace and calm, even if for only a short period of time.
The list could go on.
I write by myself, but I get together with writer friends to exchange work and talk through ideas.
I listen to music by myself, but I get with others at live shows.
I develop my own curriculum as a teacher, but I get together with colleagues to share successes and failures.
Yes, I want more people to check out yoga classes. But for yogis to promote yoga as a cure-all and as a way to prevent injuries is irresponsible. Of course I believe the benefits outweigh the risks, but new practitioners should be mindful going into it.
I liked an article (posted below) from the Washington Post that was reprinted in the Dec. 23 edition of the Minneapolis StarTribune. I thought it had a lot of good tips.
Yoga injuries are likely going to come from overuse and overstretching. But I believe that listening to your body is going to be the most important way to prevent injuries. I think a lot of yoga injuries result from people looking at others in a class and trying to do what they’re doing. They forget that the person on the mat next to them may have been practicing yoga for many years. Letting go of ego and letting go of competition will go a long way in keeping yourself healthy on the mat.
I’m only a few days into eating a primarily plant-based diet, but I’m already feeling better and seeing results.
I generally have eaten pretty healthy in the past few years. I like fruits and vegetables and make it a point to eat those every day. I like to eat well because I like to be active, and I can’t fuel my body on garbage. But my main challenges have been:
Simply eating too much, especially now that I’m not logging lots of miles like I was prior to the marathon in October.
Still lacking willpower to walk away from the sweet treats — totally my weakness! I would never eat chips or fries again in my life if it meant I could still eat cookies.
Drinking too much alcohol.
These have been my challenges for about three years. In 2014, I wasn’t happy with my eating habits or my body and made some major changes. I was able to keep this up mostly through 2016. But since then, I’ve struggled.
I’ve made half-hearted attempts to rediscover that good place I was in a few years ago. But nothing ever stuck and I’d quickly be back to my old habits (or more accurately, not even wanting to change).
But a couple of weeks ago, something happened. It was definitely an internal/mind change. I kind of just lost my taste for junk. I craved freshness. That’s what I wanted to put into my body. Whereas I hadn’t cut back on alcohol because I simply liked it, in the past couple of weeks the thought of drinking kind of turned my stomach.
I credit the change to a few things:
Making yoga and meditation a daily routine. I wake up and immediately begin my practice. Sometimes it’s only 15 minutes, sometimes it’s an hour. I’ve been sustaining this for about a month.
Disliking how my body feels when I’m not kind toward it. A morning practice is difficult and challenging when if the night before I drank and ate garbage. I got tired of feeling that way.
Letting go of psychic baggage.
Just in the past few days, I’ve noticed that I’m sleeping better and have lost weight. And the new diet is highly satisfying and filling! This is a HUGE change for me. As a pitta, I’m often ravenous and counting the hours until the next meal. I have never missed and meal and have never forgotten to eat! But something like the six-taste bowl pictured above sustains me for hours. This has been the biggest surprise of this new routine.
This is not a diet or a miracle fix. This is a way of life. I have never participated in any fad diet, because I know the key is being able to sustain the way you eat. I don’t anticipate a problem incorporating more vegetables and less meat and dairy into my diet.
At this moment, I’m not saying that I won’t ever eat meat or dairy or sugar again, or that I’ll never have another sip of alcohol. I resist strict rules. Even if the rules are good for me, my instinct is to break them just because they’re rules! I’m also a slow learner and like to dip my toe in the water before going all in. For example, I did several 5Ks and 10Ks before doing a marathon. I did sprint triathlons before moving on to Olympic-distance triathlons. Unlike someone I know, who signed up for a full Ironman triathlon without knowing how to swim!
So I’m considering this a primarily plant-based diet, with some exceptions. I think the key to making something work for you is to tailor it to your needs and lifestyle. Make it individual for you. What works for someone else may not work for you.