Along with a whole pile of people I know (including Susan, Tracy, Sam and Renee), I did the Yoga with Adriene 30 day Breath series in January. I wrote about how I had a bit of a hard time at the beginning with the amount of time and focus on, you know, breathing, and I also wrote about gathering new strength and balance through focus on developing bakasana, or crow pose. Last week, Susan wrote about how this annual practice gave her a chance to re-engage with her inner 13 year old.
On January 31, I did the final session, a 50 minute self-guided practice called “BEGIN!” Every year, Adriene ends the series with a silent practice, an invitation to tap into your own emerging relationship with yoga. Other years, I misread the idea and tried to follow her, which I found impossible (and frustrating) without vocal cues. This time, I just practiced alongside my friend Adriene, occasionally looking at her for inspiration, tapping into the knowledge of the yoga flow that feels right for my body, extending into the spaces I need to soften, pushing myself in the places I need to strengthen, solidifying the places that make me feel strong.
As I’ve noted before, I have been practicing yoga since about 1996, and I’ve figured out during that time how to create a reasonable self-guided practice. I’ve done a few marathons of 108 sun salutations, and I’ve countless brisk 15 – 30 minute flows. But there was something about this moment that made this invitation to practice unfold in a completely different way — the 50 minute “container” of time, the encouragement, the ability to pop my head up and see Adriene and think, oh, right, a triangle flow would be good, oh, I forgot about that reverse warrior twist. Very unusually for me, I didn’t even look at the time, didn’t mentally keep myself going by reassuring myself I “only have 17 more minutes.” (There is nothing less “in the moment” than counting down until you are done your yoga practice!). I felt the yoga just writing itself in my body.
I was trying to figure out what was different about this year — and the simple answer was, I think, that I created more depth by, you know, actually doing it. This is the 4th year I’ve embarked on the 30 day series, and the only time I’ve managed to actually do it. (I missed one day when I didn’t feel very well; I did two the next day). The practices aren’t long, they aren’t hard — but somehow the hurdle is — as always — in beginning.
One of my coaching clients — a high school student — told me last week that her guitar teacher gave her advice when she was avoiding practice that if you can do something for five minutes, you will keep doing it. I have known this for a long time — it’s how I often trick myself into running (“Just go out for 10 minutes, then you can come home”) — but it’s so hard to remember in my body so much of the time. Starting that 5 minutes is the hardest part.
This January was different. I made a commitment to do all 30 days of Breath, and — even when I wasn’t loving it at the beginning — I held fast to that commitment. (See my word of the year: steadfast). And I tapped into my weird completist self that likes checking things off lists and acquiring badges — I printed out the full calendar and crossed them off every day, and added them to my little habit tracker. Colourful markers and checks accumulating every day? What could be more satisfying?
Like Susan — and a lot of other people on my workout group — I found that committing to this everyday practice did something really transformative. First, it cemented the daily practice, which I’ve carried into February. Which has done great things, naturally, for my mobility, and for my strength and capacity to do more intense workouts, with my once a week “Sweat Flow” live yoga class, with my Virtual Superhero group and with my other tracking obsession, my quest to do all 80 Zwift routes.
But more than that, it crystallized what I mean by committing to “steadfast” as my word of the year. Yoga steadily every day? Yup, doing it, no question. Showing up to the harder things in my life? Yup, doing it, no question. Doing my dishes before going to bed? Yup, doing it, no question. It’s just who I am committing to be this year. Steadfast.
Doing this with Adriene? Reminds me that I am strong. I have proof in my body, proof in how I feel when I step into thorny questions, and I have proof in the little check marks on my page.
I am strong.
What daily habits are you cultivating? What is working for you?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is working on wheel in yoga — a pose she never thought was possible.