I’ve been practicing yoga for a long time but not long enough that I don’t remember what my life was like before I practiced yoga. Now, lest you think this post is going to be a lofty one, holding out yoga as the “be all and end all” for all things, let me say that is not the case. I only want to suggest that a regular yoga practice can help you build discipline in other parts of your life.
Now, as you may know (see earlier post), I just finished running my 2nd marathon (the first was in 2008; it’s been a while!). I would say that training for a marathon is a great way to build discipline in your life and it’s a critical component of training. The regular and intense running, nutritional and sleep requirements of marathon training pretty much require that you have your act together in our parts of your life, or you won’t make it to the finish line (or you will, but your non-running life will be in tatters around you). Discipline, while even the word sounds strict, can be the foundation for actually living with more freedom, because you have systems in place for those things that are necessary in life to be in place.
So what are these things? Things like showing up fully in your life; be it in your job and your relationships. Things that are more mundane but necessary, like paying bills, keeping your house in good shape, doing the necessary errands, eating healthy foods. Things like speaking from the heart, saying what’s on your mind (even when it’s hard), not saying everything that pops into your head, not speaking just to show off and being authentic. All these things can be part of the building a solid foundation in your life.
So, what does a yoga practice have to do with these behaviors? Yoga helps us build discipline through:
Feeling connected to the body
Showing up fully, even when we don’t feel like it
Trying our best
Paying less attention to ego and listening more to our heart
These behaviors are some of the foundations of committing yourself to anything but most certainly, they’re part of a yoga practice. Once we connect to our breath and start to go through the motions, we realize that it’s not so hard to make a commitment to something. We start to appreciate the affects of feeling good in our body. This can often translate to changing the way we eat. We start to realize the affects of showing up regularly and doing our best. This can translate into how we are in our jobs. We start to see how it feels to express ourselves fully in our body. This can translate into how we are in our relationships. We start to really feel good about being in our bodies. This can translate into having a better relationship with ourselves.
Yoga is not a cure all but it can be a wonderful way to build a solid foundation in your life. If you’re not sure, try it. What do you have to lose?