Change is difficult to say the least. We are creatures of habit, and that means it is difficult to change and create new ones. Introducing and sticking to a new goal, or a new activity in your life can be intimidating and overwhelming because of the fear of failure, or the popular excuse of “ I just don’t have the time.”
It’s common knowledge that the more time, repetition and practice we put into a specific thing, the better we become. The same philosophy rings true when it comes to our thoughts and actions. A yoga class gives the opportunity to step onto the mat and practice. By flowing through a series of postures and repeating the practice day to day, this creates an opportunity for the body to find a rhythm. This repetition in turn aids the brain to establish specific neurological pathways and to cultivate an atmosphere for a habit to be formed.
With a yoga practice, of course you can expect to get physically stronger, but the biproduct of showing up, being aware of your breath, and flowing through a class also creates a habit of being mindful and present. As the practice of yoga becomes more regular, the ability to tap into the benefits of yoga off the mat becomes much more attainable.
This is the brilliance of a yoga practice. A consistent practice opens the door to a more mindful lifestyle with a heightened sensitivity, and awareness. Many students report that in a short period of time they become more aware of the mind, the breath, their thoughts and their behavior both on and off the mat. As we become more conected to our phyical body, the ourselves including the emotional, mental and spiritual parts of us begin to find balance.
With this heightened sense of awareness, wellness factors relating to our overall health, diet and lifestyle become more clear. Through the natural evolution of a yoga practice, many students tend to make better lifestyle choices, eat foods that make them feel alive and well, prioritize getting enough rest and simply engage in more physical activity. We begin to operate from an empowered sense of choice.
This is a perfect example of how yoga can help us to change habits. As awareness grows, you look at life through a different lens, and can reap the benefits of really listening to the body, actually acknowledging how a certain food makes you feel, or perhaps realizing the consequence of your actions. Now that is powerful motivation, and support while you are learning to live your yoga practice.
Emily Potter, Clinical Nutritionist and Yoga Instructor