The fundamental truth about changing anything in your life is that it takes time and effort. I have talked about this many times before and constantly have to talk people down from expecting things to change overnight. In our society we are used to getting things right away, whether it be email, text messages, fast food, even watching a movie can be done instantly online thanks to modern technology. We forget about the fact that advancing a career, learning, growing a family and relationships take time and effort, like anything in life.
But in our society people rush into relationships and when they aren’t instantly happy they get divorced because it is easy. We take up workout programs and diets over and over again because they are really easy to start – but somewhere along the way we lose momentum because we expect this massive change within a short period of time and when it doesn’t happen, instead of continuing for some reason we just stop. We consume crappy things because it makes us feel good for the moment, but then the negative things that happen afterwards just stall our progress.
By just continuing on the path, even if the results don’t happen as fast as you like you’re going to be far better off over time than if you stop and start something different. Ours is a society where we don’t finish what we start. We give up way too easily. We needlessly over-complicate things like health and nutrition and exercise when most tried and true methods are always accomplished given enough time and effort.
So as a message to take away for today, remember that even making one simple change – today – can fundamentally alter the way that your future unfolds before you. Today you always have a choice as to what you want to do, eat, drink, how you want to sleep, what you want to accomplish. The world is in front of you, but we as humans always allow what is behind us to guide our path rather than just moving forward. Once you realize that each day doesn’t have to be affected by what you did the day before it can be a very liberating feeling. Just because you have missed 5 days of working out doesn’t mean that you have to – today. Just because you ate a pint of ice cream last night because you were feeling depressed doesn’t mean you have to do it again – today. You skipped yoga yesterday, but you can find another class to go to – today.
Our lives have an immense duration. Who you were five years ago isn’t who you are now and who you are now isn’t going to be anywhere close to who you are five years from now. You might have a different job, city, partner, spouse, and this can all be guided by making that one simple choice and then doing it consistently over time. Remember, even the Grand Canyon started as a little stream at some point. But it had to start. And all of us can start whatever we want to – today.
So say it out loud – “I am going to do (whatever you want to get done) today.” Make a choice and move forward. That’s the only way to possibly change over time.
If you’re looking for a good book, I recommend The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. It’s what inspired this post and is an easy read. I hope you enjoy it.
For the past week here in Ottawa I was a participant in a great course called Yoga Tune Up teacher training, where I got to spend seven full days with a bunch of very dedicated professionals getting tuned in to the yoga world a bit more. While I’m still processing everything that happened during the week, I wanted to share my initial observations with my readers and clients because there were a few things that jumped out at me right away I wanted to share.
The people who attended this course with me were from several different corners of the fitness industry. There were yoga instructors, CrossFit trainers, powerlifters, dance instructors, and even just regular people who wanted to learn more about yoga or had taken the class and wanted to learn how to present it themselves. Why did I take it? It is very rare that courses come to Ottawa, and I have known one of the main instructors for a couple of years and have a lot of respect for his knowledge and what he brings to the fitness world with his intention. To be fair, the course was not entirely what I expected and I would not have taken it if I knew what the days were going to entail, as I have no intention of being a yoga instructor – but here’s some things that I took away that are valuable to me. Even if a course isn’t exactly what I’m looking for, my belief is that even if you just get one thing out of it, then it still has value.
The Concept of Sankalpa
On the first day we had to come up with a Sankalpa, or a basic statement that sets your intention around your yoga practice, or simply your life at that point. It is something you are supposed to repeat to yourself in order to guide your thoughts and what you intend to do. In business this could be called a mission statement (although they are usually a lot longer). In some meditation circles it could be a mantra. The great thing is, the simpler it is the better – one sentence can be enough. Sometimes it can be oriented around something you intend to improve personally or within your practice. It is well established that once you repeat something to yourself enough, your brain and body start to believe it. Coming up with a simple statement allows you to touch base with who you really want to be, even if you have to fake it until you make it for a bit.
I would suggest that everyone come up with something like this. Repeating it to yourself under times of stress or when you need to focus on your real intention can be really eye opening in the moment. I know it certainly was for me once I figured out what it is. If you want to know, just ask me.
People Need to Follow Their Inner Voice
When I was getting to know the other participants, a common theme came up constantly through the week very similar to my own. The people had a regular job that they hated, took a class and loved it and realized that they were doing the wrong thing and decided to do something that they liked instead of something that they hated. What a novel concept. I did the same thing almost 15 years ago when I left my high paced stress filled retail management job.
I’m a firm believer that if the universe is telling you something, then you need to go and do it if or when you can. If you can’t manage it right now because of other circumstances, then start planning to get there. I have a client right now who is already planning for her retirement and what she wants to do with her life, but she isn’t retiring for another five years. Even if it takes a few years, for the rest of your life at least you will be working on your authentic purpose rather than wasting away day by day doing something that you hate. Like Jim Carrey said in a recent clip that has been making the rounds of the internet: “you can fail at what you don’t want, so why not take a chance at doing something you love?”
Mobility and Strength aren’t Mutually Exclusive
With the group that we had in the room, it was a great mixture of both “flexy-bendies” and pure strength people, but the greater thing was that everyone was open minded and listened to all points of view without judgement. The thing that emerged (at least from my perspective) was that the really mobile people didn’t have a ton of strength, and the really strong people didn’t have a lot of mobility. It is almost like a large parabolic curve with the x axis being strength and the y axis being mobility and you should aspire to be somewhere in the middle – but it is really hard to get there. There is also a well known correlation between having too much range of motion and not being able to control your joints at end ranges, which can easily lead to injury (something I address constantly with my clients).
The point there is to have a balance – but the one thing that they reinforced during the course (and quite well) was that you can’t achieve a good position of strength if your position is faulty. This means when you are trying to achieve a strong movement or even just to walk properly it is important to begin with proper spinal alignment. So many of us walk around with massive forward head posture and bound up thoracic spines and externally rotated hips, and then we go to a place where we sit all day staring at computer screens lower than our eyes should be, get into cars where we cram ourselves into seats that push everything forward, and sleep with three pillows.
I came out of this course feeling much more mobile than I have been probably in years, and with a renewed sense of who I am and my purpose in the world. It reinforced my path to me and made me aware of things that I had let slip over the past while. Moving forward through life can only be done properly if you have a sense of where you want to be, so sometimes just getting a bit of a wake up call is really valuable, and that’s worth the cost of ten courses to me. I also had a great time and met some incredible caring knowledgeable people who I’m really happy to now be networked with as possible resources for my clients and colleagues.
If you want to know about Yoga Tune Up, visit www.yogatuneup.com and check out a class in the area, it might just be worth it for you.