Photo credit: Graham Mattock, Mattock Imagery
If you’re struggling to make yoga a habit, I think you'll find this trick useful. It's based on the work of Japanese psychiatrist Dr Shoma Morita.
Does this sound familiar?
You’ve just finished work, you’re shattered. All you want to do is switch off your brain and sink down in front of the TV, but you know you need to do some yoga. A few stretches will ease your achey back and shoulders, loosen up your hips, relax you and help you get a better night’s sleep. But you just don’t feel like doing it.
The first thing to recognise is that: your feelings are not under your control.
I have a close friend who badly wants to get in shape. I've given him a detailed nutrition and exercise plan to get him where he wants to be, but however hard he tries, he cannot get himself to the gym. He knows from past experience that once he starts, momentum will take over and exercising consistently will become automatic, a habit. He just can’t summon enough willpower to get started.
The problem is that he's waiting to feel like going to the gym, and that unfortunately, could take a lifetime.
No-one feels like bashing out hill sprints. You do it because you know how great you'll feel afterwards, how much faster you'll be in your sport, how much stronger and more sculpted your muscles will be.
Your emotional state depends on many factors that are outside of your control: what you've eaten, how you were treated at work that day, what the weather's like, how much sleep you got last night, how loved and appreciated you feel, how much coffee you've drunk, where your hormones are at, if you've just received good or bad news.
If we allowed ourselves to be dictated to by our feelings, we'd never get anything difficult or worthwhile done.
Dr Shoma Morita's trick
Here it is: Accept your feelings, know your purpose and do what needs doing.
That’s it. That’s the trick. You want to start doing yoga? Just do it. Do one pose. Do 5 minutes. No excuses. No-one said you have to do it well. No-one said you'll experience mind-blowing benefits after your first session. You just do it. Then, when you've done it a few times, you'll have established the habit and you don’t need to worry about your feelings anymore. It will be automatic and you won’t have to go to battle with your mind every time you want to do a little stretching.
Nike put it best:
"Your body will thank you later." #justdoit