5 TIPS ON HOW TO CHANGE HABITS
Would you choose to practice Yoga because you want to change life habits?
I do it all the time.
What are the things in your life you do repeatedly? Without thinking too much about them.
The list is never ending but surprisingly we don’t check it often. What I mean is, we ‘live’ lots of habits which got set at some point for some reason. However, at this point in our life it may still be relevant. But it may not.
It may still be useful or beneficial because it’s the way we know things should be done. On the other hand, all of that may have changed.
I am sure you see where I am coming from, though all examples are somewhat arbitrary.
Our brains are similar to computers: programs get installed and used in the same fashion over and over again.
What happened to updating our brains’ patterns?
We upgrade appliances and devices or their operating systems.
For ourselves we often only do this when we have to.
For example you get promoted. Suddenly you move amongst a different crowd and different dress code, manners and attitudes are required.
We may make a discovery and change the knowledge we hold about something in our life. But we don’t change how we think or talk about the subject. We don’t adjust our behaviour.
We ‘know better’ but we don’t do differently.
For example we know that less processed food is more nutritious and healthier. Yet we may continue buying a brand we have used for years despite the fact that superior products have come on offer.
The problem is that most of our mental processing is unconscious. And as long as we aren’t aware of what, why and how, we won’t change it.
I was brought up having toast and jam for breakfast. Still like it a lot.
Yet I know that the nutritional value isn’t outstanding, there are no fresh vitamins and a lot of sugar in jam and marmalade and most days I feel hungry again 3 hours later.
So, I alternate the ‘traditional’ with healthier options.
But my ‘default’ breakfast remains toast and jam.
It took me years to know that I can choose every day anew.
Our own choices determine what we accept as good or beneficial for us.
Statistically not many people who make new resolutions keep them.
And we all know that changing ‘a thing’, a piece of clothing or a gadget may be a lot easier than changing a way of thinking or feeling or doing.
Ultimately the process is very similar.
We may want to get started by making the decision of what to change. What exactly do we want or how exactly do we want to behave or feel?
5 tips on how to approach changing or acquiring a habit
Don’t just decide to ‘sit up straighter’. You want to achieve a posture which is elegant, confident, that benefits your bones and joints. (habit: sit any old way that seems comfortable)
Don’t just look for a better job. Know what a better job provides, more money, happy colleagues, progressive development, liberal working hours. (habit: this is what I know and it’ll do)
1. Make a plan how you will get there.
2. Make it measurable, set deadlines and measure regularly.
4. Prepared for setbacks?
It is all too easy to give up for no good reason. Be prepared for your
plan not to work out easily without obstacles. Regular check ups
are essential because they prevent us from coming too far off our
intended course, thereby making it easier to correct the direction.
How will you react mentally and emotionally when you are not
progressing as well as you expected?
Be honest and admit to cheating or flaws in your plan. It doesn’t
mean failure, but an opportunity to learn. Often we are so focussed
on the end result that we don’t see the little steps we need to take.
If you can’t reach the next step, maybe it’s necessary to split it into
three smaller ones.
That way you don’t fail. Instead you win, grow more confident and become more flexible.
Keep your focus on the goal, don’t let yourself get dragged down by
emotions like “Poor me”, “I will never do it”, “it’s so hard”. They are
all patterns you picked up somewhere and they keep you from
5. Schedule Celebrations
As you check on your progress appreciate your input, work, dedication and achievements.
Do something fun that is in line with your goal and the things you value in life.
This grows your confidence and motivation.
E.g. if losing weight don’t celebrate with a large pizza and wine.
You may be thinking “where is he going with all this? I thought it was about habits and how to change them” using Yoga.
If you look back at point 1- 5, you’ll find them easy to apply in the process of learning or practicing a posture.
And take a few minutes at the end of the session relaxing, absorbing in body and mind the processes you decided to go through, rediscover, unlearn and master.
Enjoying the practice of Yoga regularly can indeed be a way to help us change, change habits, attitudes and beliefs about ourselves.
Over the past year or so I have discovered for myself how refreshing setting goals and striving toward them and achieving them actually is.
Goals have to be interesting enough and you have to see and believe in the purpose of the goal. After all, the more we feel fulfilled the happier we become. Choosing realistic steps, and learning what is realistic, humbles and educates us.
Much of our day to day life is ruled by habits. Change them and the beliefs behind them and you change the way you feel about your life.
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We are Kari van Eden and Michael Cordel. Our love for nature supports our interest in helping others rediscover their connection to Yoga and the Earth. Practising Yoga outdoors is especially useful to centre us, to anchor our mind and bring space into ourselves.