New Goal? Might Feel Weird. Give It Some Time To Sink Into Your Body.
NEW. What is new in your world? Or what would you like to be a new thing in your life? Maybe it has something to do with the new year. Maybe this newness is something you wanted, and maybe you got handed a life shitstorm and now you’re trying to deal.
There’s been a lot of new in my life lately. I’ve started teaching at the LifeTime Bloomington South location, which means I’m teaching more beginners of yoga (including my new hero who started yoga at the age of seventy-one), and I just taught my first ever Family Yoga class, which included an adorable five-year-old girl. (Talk about melting hearts.) I also started working with a new private client who has done yoga on and off over the years, but wanted to get into a good habit with it. This client was telling me an anecdote about why yoga is intimidating. It reminded me something from my years of teaching. Education and psychology tell us that it takes time for our understanding to shift. For instance, even when we learn a new piece of information, it takes the average brain 8-12 weeks to turn that information into something we can directly apply and use in our lives. (Hence why classes run in semesters/trimesters, and why I built the Practice Project to last 8 sessions over 9 or 10 weeks.) This applies to yoga in the same way. The poses are “the goal,” but we must remember that it will take some time to feel comfy with it, whether your goal is the do any version of the pose that your body will allow, or to make refinements to a pose that you’ve been doing for years. And then there’s all the other business of breathing, and transitioning between poses… So, you know, patience is a very, very necessary bitch.
So, grasshoppers, even though someone may look “healthy” on the outside, remember that “health” is way way way way way way (did I say way?) more than doing a perfect yoga pose. And also please remember that before we have a deeper understanding of anything, we see and perceive the “macro” — the finished product, the perfect yoga pose done by the perfect yoga body on Instagram. Now, look at this photo (that likely took years of practice to execute) and allow it to be your inspiration to begin something new. And then remind yourself, you smart person you, that there are minute “micro” details that you don’t yet know… Yoga, being the physical / mental / emotional excercise that it is, will teach us details about ourselves that become indicators of where we need work emotionally and mentally.
This whole concept of mind-body is often perceived as this nebulous and subtle thing that can’t possibly be that big of a deal, can it? But the more we understand the state of our bodies, and the more that we understand how much our physical “presence,” we’ll call it – the way we carry ourselves, and physically present ourselves – is affected by our emotional presence. Take a look at anyone who’s had an emotionally taxing year. You can see the wear and tear on their face, and in the clarity and focus of their eyes. By the same token, anyone who’s recently fallen in love, or gotten a new job, or taken a vacation looks fresh and bright-eyed. This example shows that emotions affect the physical. Using the reciprocal of this is the concept that physically altering our bodies in specific ways can actually alter our emotional output. (Which is also why practices like exercise, mindfulness, meditation, etc. are great alternatives to medication for things like anxiety, depression, high blood pressure… etc.)
And if you’re still scratching your head, watch this video of a TED talk by social scientist Amy Cuddy. If you’re impatient (not judging, you are where you are, even if we ARE talking about patience…) fast forward to 7:20 where she talks about how our “nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves.”
So, I hope this has gotten you think about the NEW in your life. And the PATIENCE that it takes to allow that NEW to become your NORMAL.