Last year, I celebrated the simplicity of adding yoga into your life without needing to give anything up by adhering to new rules. This is because yoga will start to create shifts in your attention and attitude that result in unneeded or unwanted habits falling away.
For example, let’s say you’ve realized you check your mobile waaaaay too often. Even if your work has you in the business of responding to messages immediately, you continue the habit beyond work hours and it’s cutting into your life.
When you start yoga, quite possibly some element of your yoga practice will replace the purpose your phone habit served, and as a result the compulsion will fall away. Instead of wishing you didn’t always feel compelled to check, you’ll actually not want to. Breaking habits in this way can take longer than tackling them head on, but usually the process feels less like a battle against yourself and the changes are more likely to stick around for good.
Why? Because sometimes we know what’s in our way and sometimes we don’t. You know you check your phone too often, you know you don’t like feeling attached to it, and you know if you could stop, you would feel less burdened. But do you know why exactly you check in so often? Do you know what purposes it serves? It’s possible you’re totally clear on the situation and just haven’t taken action to change yet, but often we move through our habits rotely, without noticing what they do for us.
Let’s say you check your phone to avoid feeling alone. When you start a new yoga practice at your local studio, going to class regularly can add an after-work social element to your life that cuts in to your phone checking time. Early success! Of course, the real change will set in once the yoga starts to help you look more inward. The tools of concentration, self-awareness, and self-acceptance will gradually teach you how to be alone with yourself without feeling alone. No more compulsive phone checking needed.
I like that yoga takes our habits by surprise, that we can focus on yoga without focusing on “fixing” or “improving” ourselves. Once we can accept who we are and how we behave right now, we learn to accept others with the same boldness we embrace ourselves.
This process, as we have seen, also opens the door to change. As you move deeper into your practice, the obstacles grow more subtle and your awareness of them more refined. And while I continue to advocate for adding before taking away, at this more refined level, the whole process is more aware and direct.
You start to see clearly what’s in your way and why. You’re able to pin-point exactly what element of your practice will help to melt away different obstacles. And in this way, yoga is still a practice of replacing a blocked path with an open one, but once you get how it works, you’re more likely to see it happening and know you’re a part of it all.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.