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.
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.
“My mind wanders too much when I try to meditate.”
Those were all things I’ve said at different points in my life. I knew people who meditated, I knew people got a lot out of meditation, I have had meditation “assignments.” But finally, finally, in taking my own journey and my own path to meditation, I’m settling into a practice.
For me, it’s like anything — it takes practice. I practice the piano to get better. If I write every day, writing is going to get easier and flow better. If I run most days a week, I’m going to be a better runner.
I’ve been meditating most mornings. I started short, just 2-3 minutes. But after a while, that became easier — those minutes went by quickly instead of plodding along like they did when I started. This morning for the first time I meditated for 5 minutes.
Yes, my mind wanders. My mind wanders on my mat, too. But instead of giving up, I bring myself back to the moment. Some days I have to do this countless times. Other days, I’m more present. Whatever is going on that day is “right.”
Another cool thing is happening: I’m viewing my Ashtanga practice as meditation rather than physical. I had always viewed it as physical — it’s a challenging and demanding practice, which takes a lot of physicality. I used to measure my progress by my strength and ability to get into poses. But lately, I am experiencing how the physical is a path to the meditation, not an end unto itself. This is bringing a new level of meaning and excitement to my practice.