Yoga: Drip, Drip, The Bucket Fills

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Our New Year's resolutions don't stick for two main reasons:

1) We have grand notions of what we want -- to lose 50 pounds, to be happy, to get a boyfriend, to make a lot more money. Just as sitting down to write a book is so intimidating that most hopeful authors choke, it works best for any big picture project if we take it one page at a time, one chapter at a time, one breath at a time.

2) We don't really want to put in the effort it takes to make changes. We might want to look and feel like we do yoga so we think, "Well, maybe I'll watch a yoga video or get a Thai Yoga Massage at the spa." We want someone else to do yoga for us, or quit smoking for us, or stop eating sugar for us. I know I do, don't you? The idea of making a real change is just too much to tackle.

But then I remember what my teacher, Gelek Rimpoche, always says -- "Drip, drip, drip, the bucket fills." He means that if we meditate a little bit everyday, eventually our mind and heart shift toward more kindness and clarity. This approach can work for anything.

Many people my age, (56 years old!), tell me that they want to do yoga but they are afraid to go to a yoga class. They don't want to put on tight clothes and take a class with younger, sexier people. I totally get that.

In the privacy of your own home, try the following sequence. Three times a week is good but even if you do it once a week, you will still see benefits.

I had a yoga student who took a weekly private class from me and it had such a profound impact on her life that she gave me the seed money to start my yoga studio, OM yoga center. Isn't that inspiring?

Start small, stay steady. Are you ready to begin?

Sit on a cushion or two with your legs crossed.

1. Chest & Shoulder Opening (supports function of heart and lungs)

Lift your arms up to the sky as you breathe in and lower them back to your sides as you breathe out. Repeat six times.

2. Twisting (good for back stiffness and digestion)

Inhale and lift your arms up. Exhale and twist your body to the right. Place your right hand on the floor behind you and your left hand on your right knee. Stay here for a couple of breaths. Then inhale back to the center with your arms up and as you exhale, twist to the left.

3. Spine Flexibiity (relieves backaches, strengthens abdominals)

Get on your hands and knees on the floor. On an exhale, drop your head, lift your spine up like a dome, and round your tailbone under. This shape is like a Halloween cat. As you inhale, reverse that shape, dropping your belly as you lift your seat up and look up. This is like a cow. Repeat Cat and Cow, moving slowly on the breath, at least six times.

4. Side Bend (stimulates internal organs, tones waist)

Stand up with your feet hips width apart. Inhale and lift your arms up. Exhale and bend to the right. Right arm drops down by your side and left arm reaches overhead. Inhale and stand back up. Exhale, bend to the left. Repeat this three times.

5. Forward Bend (stretches hamstrings and back)

Bend your knees and fold forward. Yes, bend over all the way to ... well, to wherever you can. It is not a big deal if you can touch the floor. Believe me, I can touch the floor and it is not that exciting. Just go where you can. Keep your knees bent and hang like a rag doll. Slowly, slowly, round up to standing.

That's it for today! Do this sequence on whatever regular schedule you can manage and little by little, you will start to experience better sleep, more reliable digestion and more physical confidence. This takes time. This takes effort. But it all adds up.

Start small, stay steady. Drip, drip, drip, the bucket fills.