We all know how great we’d feel if we did all the right things – if we ate well every day, got 8 hours of sleep every night, drank lots of water, and stretched – so why don’t we do it? This week, our fab yoga teacher Iris explores why we constantly self-sabotage, and some ideas as to how to stop doing that quite as much.
Anyone who practises yoga regularly will tell you that they do it because it makes them feel great. I do it for that reason too. As a teacher, I have all the tools to feel great and motivated every day, and despite this, can let my ego override my desire to feel healthy and well in myself. This became very clear to me recently, when I returned home from a stressful trip abroad, tired from spending hours in planes, trains and buses. As I finally plunged myself into an armchair back home at 1am, still wired from the journey, stiff neck and sore muscles, knowing that I had to be up and running again by 6am, the sensible thing to do was to go into my yoga room, light a candle, diffuse some lavender, do a few supine twists and stretches and then sink into a restful sleep. Did I? No. I poured myself a large glass of wine, and spent an hour playing a mindless game on my phone because I needed to wind down. And yes, it did nothing to make me feel better at all.
Luckily I don’t let this happen very often. But resistance like this is by its very definition a form of self-sabotage and I wondered why it is that inertia can override all good intentions. Everyone knows that good nutrition, regular exercise, love and uncompromising selfcare are the foundation of a happy fulfilled life. This becomes even more important if we are on a healing path, be it from a cold, a bad back, a serious illness or mental stress. Although we wish to become better, there seems to be a little devil whispering into our ears that it cannot be, that we don’t deserve it, and that we might as well give up now.
To meet excuses with resilience and compassion is a good step forward, and it is important to understand is that you have to take full responsibility for your own wellbeing. Pretty hard to accept. For example, how many people do you know, who have been perpetually dieting for years? They will tell you that it’s impossible
to eat healthily because of long working hours, supermarkets are far away, someone always has chocolate at work etc. There is always a reason why other factors stop them from being the new better self.
One yogic technique which is fundamental to making a change for the better is the thought that you need a Sankalpa: A resolve, something that is important to you, that you truly wish to achieve in life. Generally people really only know what they don’t want, so finding out what you really want to achieve is one big step forward.
So, let’s stick with this idea for a moment. You know that you want to be healthier, a dress size smaller and be able to touch your toes.
To be aware of your resistance and meet it heads on, creating new habits, ditching old ones, and proximity are the baby steps to success.
Start with creating new habits. Habits are actions that we repeat without thinking or questioning, such as brushing teeth. One very useful technique is to give up something small and achievable first: for example you drink about 5 cups of sugary coffee daily. You are now on the path of changing your life for the better, and you are willing to take responsibility. So watch out for it: If you find yourself in front of that kettle again, close your eyes for a moment, give thanks, and then tell yourself that you will come back in a little while (Saying thank you to no-one in particular is a surprisingly uplifting practice).
You may not be able to give up sugar totally, but you may be able to have it just once. You may not be able to make it into 7am yoga class, but you can set your alarm 10 minutes early and roll out of bed for a few minutes on the mat in your PJ’s. After a while you will find that you have replaced lying in bed and checking your emails on your phone with 10 minutes of yoga. As your body feels great, you may not have the sugary cereal, but decide on a fruit instead. Then, one day you think that you might try to walk into work. As you arrive, you may not buy a creamy latte, but just an Americano.
Proximity is a key here. If your sugar lives right next to the kettle, it’s hard to resist. If you need to go to the shop and buy more, will you go that far to break your old habit? You may have your eye on a fantastic 8pm class in a super new studio across town, it becomes a huge effort to make it there. Chose a lunch-time class near work instead.
Meet yourself with compassion and be unapologetic about your self-care. It’s always the first thing that goes out of the window in times of stress. Make that yoga practice a necessity, like brushing your teeth twice a day. Ask your teacher to give you a 5 minute sequence that you can do at home. Over time you will find that, if you don’t practice, you feel stiff. You will find that sugar in your coffee is actually too sweet. Once you get to that stage, the rest becomes easy.
So if you’re now inspired to take your own baby steps and come to a lunchtime or evening yoga session with Iris, why not call us now on 0207 175 0150, and we’ll look forward to seeing you soon!