And The Secret To Being Committed & Consistent To This Health-Giving Practice
So often we compare our journey to someone else’s, which can make us self-conscious or insecure. I'm of the belief that comparisons never work. Your speed of progress is always going to be different than the next yoga practitioner and it’s important to keep that in mind. Guess what happens when we compare ourselves to someone who is progressing faster and better on their mat than us? We stop. But I am here to tell you that you cannot stop.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
Most of what I am going to say here is not new information but I'm hoping it will be a powerful reminder of why we practice yoga on a daily basis (it could include breathwork, asana or mantra chanting), why all or nothing approach to our yoga practice doesn't serve well and what to do when you are super busy.. like this holiday season. Hint: Practice for a 10, 15 or 20 mins duration.
If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know that I am all about consistency. It takes a lot be truly consistent with any endeavour let alone, yoga. So give yourself some grace if your path has had a few bumps, breaks, turns and re-routes all the way. Being human is messy and our best coping skill is to simply bless the mess!
Life gets busy. When responsibilities weigh heavy, taking an hour for yoga is a tough row to hoe. Or sometimes you have a consistent and long practice until your travel plans come in the way, you have to double down on a project at work or take care of a sick child, parent, what have you. These disruptions to our daily rhythm, both on and off the mat, are inevitable and usually the trigger that brings our yoga practice to a screeching halt.
When sudden transitions disturbs our routine, when overwhelm sets in, that's when the power of a short yoga practice (5, 10, 15 mins long) rises to the occasion.
Why short spurts of yoga is valuable
No#1 - Your Sense of Wellbeing Increases When You Experience Embodiment On The Daily
Embodiment is about the felt sense, the direct experience of the body.Embodiment builds interoceptive awareness - which is the ability to identify, access, understand, and respond appropriately to the patterns of internal signals. And what's important is that embodiment is a practice.
You can learn to develop a more intimate relationship with your body and allow yourself to feel all the sensations and emotions, while working at your job, playing with your kid, partaking in a sport, relating to others and the outside world,… you can be closely connected to your body in everything that you do. And it is a practice that supports our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, helping you grow into loving kindness towards yourself and others. For instance, when you are able to skilfully interpret the internal signals of the body - the unrelaxed jaw, stiff shoulders, lower back pain, perhaps you are prone to anxiety or fatigue, you are more aware of how to take care of yourself and meet your needs. And on top of that your everyday experience from moment to moment, becomes more intense and you feel more alive.
The practice of yoga to me is one of the most basic and important embodiment practices and even if we experience embodiment for 10 mins everyday, it builds our interoceptive skills to a significant level over time.
What I firmly believe is that..
The world needs is embodiment. Our consciousness is contained within the instrument of the body. Without training ourselves to develop a closer relationship with our bodies, we cannot fully support our well-being.
No 2# Consistency brings results.
The currency of these actions isn’t intensity, it’s consistency.
No# 1: When we need rest, pushing hard can feel daunting. During such times, you can choose to stop focusing on the intensity, duration and style of your yoga practice and lean into shorter, more restful yogic practices.
Yoga practice is a beautiful example of why consistency trumps intensity. You begin to become more mindful, more present with life, even with a 10 mins of meditation - done daily. You feel your joints getting less stiff and more open even if your daily yoga practice is for 10-20 mins. The results may not appear in a day or two, it may take months but you've got to trust the process of planting positive actions everyday.
While I encourage you to do short sports of yoga during busy phases, I need to emphasise that things take time: When it comes to the process of personal development and investing in your well-being, the outcome takes time to unfold. Technology and social media has created a world of instant gratification, setting a precedent that is impossible to follow in our real lives. But with consistency, and faith in the process, you will succeed - this is rooted in yoga philosophy and frankly, it's been my personal experience. And showing up for yourself day in and day out will bear fruits three months from now that you couldn’t even imagine.
During stressful times, the first thing to go west is our proactive investment in our well-being, and that's precisely what we need to keep our head above the water. I've written about why we fail to be consistent here. During overwhelming days, we need to engage with activities that are grounding and we don't have to maintain the same vigour.
The universe doesn’t reward scale, it rewards consistent, daily action. For those who don't connect with 'soul speak', let's talk about science behind consistency: When it comes to neuroplasticity - the fact that yoga can literally change the way your brain is wired, it’s a matter of frequency of activation not intensity of activation. (On occasion, intensity can lead to change, like experiencing an iconic moment or perhaps a traumatic event, but life mostly unfolds somewhere in between these two extremes). However with consistent activation, your brain begins to recognize patterns and develop in a manner that accounts for those patterns. So, it's not just me saying it, 10 mins of yoga everyday is a power tool backed by science. Consistency matters, even when it’s small because everything counts!
The New York Times dubbed 2021 the 'year of exercise snacks' acknowledging the trend of short movement breaks catching fancy of people all over the world. These micro-yoga movements not only help us discover or (re-discover) the fun in the movement but makes us stay committed to our wellbeing and mental health.
Which brings me to my second point..
No 3# Micro-yoga movements propel us to get back on track - faster
No# 2: - When you step away from any activity entirely, it is harder to come back, but when you decrease the intensity but stay present with it, it is not that difficult to re-intensify.
If you've been used to having a longer duration, high intensity, consistent practice, then yoga 'snacks' might not feel enough but those things will help you maintain a certain connection to your body and certain intrinsic internal memory of what it feels like to feel good and not disconnected.
Taking action is NOT the full story - taking consistent action is. When you lose a day or few days and do nothing towards your well-being or whatever goals you are currently pursuing, you go several steps backward. But when you continue the momentum, even if it means taking small steps and not giant leaps, you have less struggle and more ease in keeping your physical, mental and emotional health in check.
Continuing to show up for yourself and what you want, especially when life challenges you to stop, will make the path a little easier to travel. Once you’ve re-established your baseline, you’re back on track and you can grow from that.
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and there is immense value in
taking small actions everyday when giant leaps to make.
Micro-yoga sessions help you maintain a certain connection to your body and mind, a certain intrinsic internal memory of what it feels like to feel good and not disconnected. It allows you to feel embodied, building your interoceptive skills, so you can better take care of your needs.
A short yoga practice may not feel enough, but you will notice how much easier it is to re-intensify your practice when you don't take a total break. A short yoga practice establishes your baseline, so you never completely lose the momentum.
Universe rewards consistency, not intensity. Your brain starts to account for consistent patterns in behavior that leads to positive improvements in its physical structure and being consistent eventually becomes effortless. This way, you get a chance to experience the deeper benefits of yoga - in due course of time.
We get stressed on a daily basis, therefore we need yoga on a daily basis. (Yoga includes asana, pranayama, meditation or mantra chanting/spiritual contemplation) .
If you are inspired to start this journey of narrow focus, big results, you can participate in my 5 Days X 10 mins Challenge. I hope you continue long after the challenge.
You can check out my Instagram post on why 'Past Failure Is Not An Excuse For Present InAction'
Take care of yourself, take care of each other.