The last weeks I was struggling with my yoga self practice and with my discipline to prioritize it in my everyday life. I want to share here my thoughts arounds this topic, as I know self -practice is very important for every yogi and especially yoga teachers.
The qualities of self discipline and willpower are qualities and energies collected in the third chakra, around our navel center, the manipura chakra, which means the city of jewels. Unfortunately there are no real diamonds hidden in our solar plexus, would be a bit painful anyway, but the great jewels of self and self empowerment such as the fire of willpower, the confidence and strength to express and manifest ourself and our potential in this world.Being unshakable in our own center, thats something we all want right?! No matter what is going on around us, having the capacity to remain aligned in our true authentic life path, straight forward, confident to stand up in our light and potential.Thats a path yoga can lead us to, but its definitely not the comfy way. When you put your alarm at 6.00 am but hit the snooze button 3 times because its just so cosy in bed and your partner just so snuggly, yes its his/her fault when you can’t swing your ass on the yoga mat, thats for certain ???? hehe! Sound familiar?!Okay, lets be serious. To get motivated and ambitious for a short amount of time for a few days is not so hard right?! Getting a new fresh pair of yoga pants with fancy colors or listening to a cool soundtrack can motivate us for a few days. But is that enough to motivate us every f*** day?!Does it really have to be everyday you are asking?! No of cause not, it depends on what you are aiming for and what you want to achieve as a yoga teacher and also a dedicated yogi. But if your intention is to make a fast progression on the path of self realization, then yes, you might have to practice everyday.They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Puh thats a lot, I don’t like math but lets do some calculations just for fun. Let’s say we do 1 hour of yoga practice ( of course not only asana, also meditation, pranayama, mantra included ) 6 times a week ( ok, one day of rest ), this would mean we do not practice 4 days in a month, which over year becomes 48 non-practice days, leaving 327 days per year for self practice.And lets be realistic there might be a few days when we are sick or move into another house or are jet lagged. So lets calculate with 300 days. This equals 300 hours of yoga each year.
At this rate, how long would it take for us to become an expert? 33.4 years.
33 years of constant practice to achieve the yoga mastery state, HALLELUJAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!! Thats long. Okay, so lets be honest how many people are that disciplined longterm?!
There was a time in my life, when I did my musical acting education, where I went totally overboard with the discipline part. I trained ballet, jazz, and step dance, singing classes, acting, articulation class, choir class…everyday 12 hours for 3 years. I was in school from 8 in the morning till 9 in the night, and sometimes I went in the gym afterwards or went for a 10 km run. It was insane and I was obsessed with getting perfect, higher, stronger, better….
As I now know, there is no such thing as perfection and today, for me, the real perfection and beauty lies in loving the imperfect parts of ourselves, in our scars and the quirkiness of the unique being that we are.
When I was 19 years old I couldn’t see that though, I couldn’t see my strength or my uniqueness, I could only see that I was not enough, and unfortunately this was also being told to me every school day. The teachers were super hard, and I went equally as hard on myself and moved far away from happiness even though Musical theater had been my life’s dream since I was a little girl.
Honestly, I can say that those have been the most horrible years of my life, because I was driven by fear, the fear of not being good enough.
And today I know that only i can set the standards for what is enough. Not other people, teachers, parents, friends. The only competition should be yourself and what you are aiming for, what is the highest vision you have of yourself and your life?! That is the healthiest and most honest standard of all.
Comparing ourselves to other people´s lives rarely leads to happiness and is really just a waste of time. We are all so different and unique, but its us who has to see that. Comparison also leads us away from respecting our bodies and going beyond our own boundaries, at least it did with me.
So comparison and competition are not good friends when we´re searching for a longterm motivation to kick our own ass when the alarm rings at 6.00 am. So what does help?!
Disciple. However, I have a strange relationship with discipline, because it took me down a path of pain and self-destruction. And when I hear other woman and my girlfriends talk about themselves it’s rarely nice, its mostly about what we are not and what we have to improve.
This higher, faster, better is not only in a women’s minds, because we all live in this higher, faster, better society that tells us constantly what to do and how to be and how we should look and what we should achieve. So we look in on our own lives from the outside, judging our life and our self, rather then really ´feeling´ from the inside and trusting our own body and soul.
I want to create a long-lasting, healthy form of discipline that comes from within, from my own desire to practice because I feel the benefit it has when I do it and also, that I might be an inspiration for others, carrying the light of yoga through my own self efforts in practice. I don’t want a short therm discipline that comes from the outside.
Mmmhhh, so it seems to me, just like with everything in life:
We have to find the middle path.
Its is a very fine line between going overboard and punishing ourselves, disrespecting our own body and when is it simply laziness. It is a constant dance of being disciplined but not fanatical, keeping a lightness inside the discipline, being clear and making our practice the priority, scheduling it into our day, but also honoring the present moment.
It is a dance of honesty with ourselves, a dance of willpower to go for our goals and simultaneously surrendering to what is.
Here are my Top 5 for tricking your lazy mind &kicking lovingly your own ass
1. Prepare – go to bed early, which means before 11 o’clock PM and set an alarm early 6 or 7 am in the morning. This is the best time to practice yoga. Put your yoga outfit next to your bed, so you just have to grab it and slide in when you get up.
2. Kick it anyway – don’t ask yourself if you ´want´ to get up at 6.00 am, because mostly the answer of your mind and body will be NO! Its just too cosy in bed! Don’t think about it. Just swing yourself on the mat, as you are, as soon as possible and don’t spend too much time before getting onto the mat. Okay a little pee and a tea is allowed, but no checking emails or instagram, which will undoubtedly take you away from your first goal. What was it again?! Ah yes, Yoga !
3. Trust your body – let your body´s intelligence lead you. Great, first step is done, you are on your mat. Perfect. Now you just have to follow your body wherever it wants to move to. Women, please don’t over do it when you have your period or in general, feeling a little weak or sick. In this case don’t do a sweaty asana practice, respect and honor the signals of your body. Do some breathing instead, some meditation or gentle yin practice, but practice some kind of yoga. And if you feel today is a great day to really rock it, go for it!
4. Find the Balance – Create a balance between feeling into what is needed and also challenging yourself. Make genuine effort and explore your edges, possibly setting yourself a specific goal. For example, I always do 1 Pose I ´hate‘ in my practice to challenge myself out of the comfort zone.
5. Be your own competition – remind yourself that you do your yoga practice first of all for yourself, not for an instagram competition or somebody else. Be your own competition, your own master, your Sat Guru, the true Guru is within.