Recently I was privileged to attend a Wellness Night at my church. It was a combination of worship, meditation, Scripture readings, Holy Yoga with deep breathing and long holds, and journaling. It was a much needed breath of fresh air and a beautiful time for connecting mind, body, and spirit. It was a time for fun and relaxation with other women who were taking care of themselves at the start of their week ahead and it was ah-mazing!
I have done a lot of different yoga classes and can think of only one that I honestly didn't enjoy. I tend to prefer the more intense, high energy, strength building, try a scary new pose, make you sweat types of yoga classes. I did not realize just how challenging or how fulfilling deep stretches and long holds in the poses would be. Settling into the pent up places in my hips and back and learning to allow my breath to take me deeper into a stretch or a fold is a practice I am familiar with, but seldom have experienced.
It is similar yet beyond the recent practice in stretching I have taken up in my 30-day splits challenge which I am nearly through, and while closer, still not quite there with the full splits. However, these recent experiences have taught me a lot about my body, and also have reminded me about the long difficult process that building new habits and making changes in my body can be. But also, that the progress and growth you make in the process are often even more valuable than finally reaching the goal you set out for. It also reminded me of the value of taking on new challenges with others, rather than on my own.
It is much easier to quit on ourselves when we are the only one watching. It is far too easy to get discouraged by how little progress we are seeing in ourselves, and to focus on what we can't yet do, rather than working just past doing what we already can. It is easy to decide, "I can't do this" and give up on something that we were so excited about just a few days before when it gets hard and there is no one to encourage us to keep going a little more.
A few weeks ago I wrote that I would share a bit more about the Holy Yoga classes I have been attending recently. I have long been a fan of yoga, and even longer a fan of Jesus, so when I first heard about Holy Yoga I was super intrigued and excited to try it out. The first time I heard about Holy Yoga was about 3 years ago. It was only this year during the crazy season of Summer during Covid-19, after having moved my family across the state and walking into a whole new place of uncertainty and feeling uprooted that I finally got the opportunity to try it. And it did not disappoint.
It was uplifting, encouraging, challenging and relaxing all at once. The yoga instructor who leads our class is Jessica and she is an absolutely beautiful person. She has one of those great personalities that shines through her eyes and her voice. She is so encouraging and gentle, yet knows just the right way to lead you to push yourself just a little bit farther than you thought you could, but not to the point of regret. And when you are at the place where your whole body shakes and you are certain you can not hold on any longer and start to want to collapse out of a pose and the voice in your mind is screaming at you "I can't do this", she says "yes you can" with a smile and suddenly you can.
There is so much power in our words. What we think about and what we tell ourselves and what others tell us have so much influence over what we believe and ultimately what we can and can not do in any given moment. Our thoughts about ourselves in these times of growth, change, and building new habits are critical to whether or not we will find success in our journey or give up before we even give ourselves the chance to begin.
How to Grow a Habit
Step 3: Focus on ONE Thing in a Positive Way
Our next step in growing a habit is to prune down our list to focus on one thing that we can commit to working towards and then reframing that one goal with positive words and images.
Identify the one goal on your list that you want to tackle and that you know you can commit at least 10 minutes a day towards. You can do this by which goal you feel most passionate about right now, which is the easiest to begin with, or by a process of elimination. Identifying the barriers currently in your life that keep you from accomplishing the goals on your list will help you gain perspective on what you can commit to focusing on today. Instead of focusing on what you can't do currently, identify what you can.
"I can commit 10 minutes a day to stretching."
"I can get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning and start my day off with this new habit I am trying to build."
"I can already touch my toes."
Now, rewrite your goal out posed as if you have already reached it.
"I am flexible. I can bend, twist, and move with ease."
Along with your positive statements you have written about reaching your goal, you can add photographs and quotes that inspire you and provide a visual that you are working towards. You may also want to take a before picture of yourself where you are at currently and retake one weekly to be able to see the progress you are making.
We start with I can, and when we feel tired, or weary in the days of practicing our new and not quite built yet habits, or not yet seeing results we had hoped for and begin to doubt our ability to continue or to ever reach the goal we set out for in the first place and start to allow those sabotaging words "I can't..." to slip into our mind, repeat after me, "yes you can" and keep going.