We all crave and deserve a fresh start from time to time. The good news is 2015 is right around the corner and bearing down on us like a train. So, ready or not, we best be gettin' prepared for the biggest fresh start and do over of the year.
As New Year's Day rolls around we burst out of the gate like racehorses hoping to make THIS New Year our best year ever! Problem is around February or March we seem to run out of steam and revert back to our old and self-sabotaging ways. Face it -- hope and good intentions are great but sadly are not enough to succeed. What we need are life skills -- skills that yoga, in my opinion, will afford you. Here are a few yoga life lessons, learned on the mat, which have helped me over the years. And I know these will be an asset to you, on and off the mat.
This is lesson #1. If you plan on hitting the ground running with your yoga, diet, and fitness resolutions come Thursday, January 1 -- donʼt. Instead, enjoy the holiday with your family and friends and take the weekend to look back and bask in the gratitude of yet another yearʼs journey around the sun with all its joys and sorrows that came with it.
Now, Monday January 5, that sounds like a great launching point, because you will have avoided January 1 with all the gyms and yoga studios packed with the inpatient resolution people. We want no part of that circus, as they'll be gone soon enough. Patience on all fronts. We're in this for the long term. Gains made in the long term are long lasting.
Woody Allen said 80 percent of lifeʼs success is in just showing up. The same can be said with life, yoga and fitness. You have to learn to embrace ʻthe grind.ʼ The grind is in showing up every day and making incremental gains, one small step, one small victory at a time. It helps to think of the grind as part of your job description, your duty to yourself. Set aside 40 to 60 minutes every day for your yoga and fitness goals. The more consistent you are, the less time day to day youʼll have to invest. I call it the "consistency bank." That way, when I am absent from the grind for some reason, even if it's just a few days, I can pick up where I left off because my consistency in the grind draws compounded interest.
You gotta see it, to achieve it. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had a dream and like the Reverend you must have a clear vision for where you want to go. Once you see it, take action and that action most times will be entering the grind. However, before you put your nose in it put your mind and imagination to it, and then your heart and soul into it. Sit down and bring your attention to your breath until your mind clears.
Once clear, start to visualize what you want to achieve. Donʼt be shy. Go big or go home. You can always hire someone to help out when the thing blows the hell up. Once you see the potential of your vision your motivation will kick in. Then youʼll see the grind is a welcomed friend.
Think of focus as an unbroken attention to detail. Focus and precision go hand in had and cannot be divorced of each other. When at work, yoga or the gym set aside everything that can steal you away from the task at hand. Yes, the phone, too. One reason after 35 years in the gym Iʼm never there longer then 40 minutes is that I demand myself to focus. For example, I could be only 15 minutes into my workout and if Iʼm interrupted by someone or myself for longer then two minutes, Iʼll pick up my gym bag and walk out.
My attention and focus have now been broken and cannot be brought back again in the same session with the same intensity. This may be a bit over the top for some but it teaches me that what Iʼm doing is important and my focus must not be sacrificed. Besides, after two or three lost sessions at the gym, this may be all the training in focus youʼll ever need.
This is the last and perhaps most important lesson -- the lesson of being grateful for the gift of life and its failures as well as its successes. It's in the failures where we learn our greatest lessons and it's our failures that propel us to make our miraculous comebacks that will astound those who thought we were done only to hear us roar. Done? I just got here!
By being grateful for all that life has afforded you, the good or the perceived bad, you will embrace the grind and give thanks to whatever happens because it just may be what you most needed at that moment.