Simple Repetition


There has been a re-occurring theme that keeps surfacing in fairly different areas of my life this year: overcoming fear.

We all have fears.

For some of us even admitting that we are fearful of something IS the fear. (ahem, not that I know anyone like that, because I’m always fearless and powerful, and amazing. Oh wait. That’s a lie.) And if you’re anything like me, the fear comes from a bad habit: comparing ourselves and our skill(s) with those of people who happen to be better at said skill than we are, and expecting that we should somehow magically be as good as said person, even though we are avoiding the very thing that would bring about improvement.  Sound familiar?

You’ll hear me say it a lot: I approach yoga from a practical stance. One of the ways I have combatted some of my fears — and an approach I used DAILY as a classroom teacher and private lessons instructor is this concept:

Overcome your fears with simple repetition.

I got the idea from for this post from reading this article today (thanks to the lovely yogini Laurel Van Matre of Yoga Garden), and I love this quote from the article:

Article courtesy of Fast Company 

“The notion that a habit takes 21 days to form if you stick to it every day is a myth, says psychologist Jeremy Dean in his book Making Habits, Breaking Habits.

On average, a habit takes more like 66 days to form, with more intensive habits like doing 50 sit-ups every morning taking around 84 days to form, according to research out of University College of London that Dean references in his book. 

But these figures will often vary greatly from person to person.

In its simplest form, repetition is how habits are created. If you really think about it, this is how we create our lives. Most of what we do every day is simply a series of habits: where you buy your groceries, what time you leave for work in the morning, who you call when you’re having a bad day, the first thing you do when you walk in the door… Creating new habits is hard because its unfamiliar. But breaking it down into something simple. And repetitive
And repetitive
And repetitive
And repetitive
And repetitive
And repetitive
And repetitive…

…makes it easier to pave the way for a new habit. Enter my argument (again) that Ashtanga is GREAT for the following people:

Avoiders stand proud! 
Procrastinators unite! 
There’s-not-enough-timer-ers stay busy! 
The fearful, shameful, and trepidatious be meek!

If you already know this is who you are, why worry so much about changing? Find a yoga that works for you!

Ashtanga IS simple repetition. 

It’s the same set of poses, in the same sequence. So it’s a little easier, in my opinion, to create a new yoga habit with Ashtanga because there’s no room for “If I try to practice on my own, I don’t know what to do next,” which is when the demons and distractions take over. Of course if you look at an entire 90-minute Ashtanga Primary Series you’ll freak out because it looks like alien behavior. But remember, people who can do an entire series of Ashtanga have been practicing for YEARS, and probably on a daily basis. It’s OK to just learn parts of it, and repeat that. Progress happens because of repetition. Whatever you repeat is what progresses. So focus on something simple and it will be easier to stick with it.

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