Circle Yoga practice

Attending a live Kundalini Yoga class is my best shot at a full, honest, and satisfying practice. The teacher’s watchful eye and encouragement, along with the energy of the group, help me keep up. After every class, I ask myself, “Why don’t I do this every day?” The hard truth is that the answer to that question is often a lack of motivation.

Well, I want 2015 to be different. 2015 will be different! So, I’m working with myself. How can I motivate to get to class most days? How can we all motivate?

One motivational technique that I’m giving a try is very simple: Do one thing at a time. In other words, don’t tell yourself: “I have to get to class in the morning and take two hours out of my busy day for yoga.” Instead, just decide to put your yoga clothes out the night before. You don’t have to do anything but lay the clothes out. Then, when you wake up, all you have to do is put them on. Easy. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the whole task. Break it down into mini-tasks.

In her book Bird by Bird,  Anne Lamott advocates this same approach to writing fiction. She suggests avoiding overwhelm and just taking on one scene, or one description, or one moment at a time. Lamott’s title comes from something her father told her brother when he was faced with starting and finishing in one night a school report on birds that he’d put off for months. Seeing the situation, Lamott’s dad put his arm around his son and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” Mini-tasks, not the whole report at once. That’s how it’s going to get done anyway.

I realize now that this is the same tactic I used with my son when he was little and his commitment to Tae Kwon Do waned. He didn’t want to quit, but he also didn’t want to go to class sometimes. Each time he resisted, I said, “Okay, maybe you won’t go to class. All you have to do is get your uniform on.” He could deal with that much and did. Then, I’d say, “Let’s just drive over there and if you still don’t want to do class when we get there, we’ll turn around and come home.” Over the years, we only turned around once. Every other time, he figured he’d already gotten dressed and we were already there, so he might as well do the class. Today, he’s a black belt.

I can take care of myself in the same way. We can parent and nurture ourselves. Inertia and lack of motivation don’t have to be a source of shame. When we don’t feel like going to class, we don’t have to jump to: “What’s wrong with me?” Instead, we can set ourselves up for success, giving ourselves the little segments of an action that we can handle, as we would with a child. Why not? Each of us deserves that gentle consideration.

May we all find a way to achieve our goals. Sat Nam!

Note: Sometimes it’s not motivation that gets in the way of getting to class. Sometimes reality (a sick child home from school, for example) makes it impossible to leave home. In those instances, I draw on my manuals and videos for a home practice, which is, of course, still incredibly valuable. My go-to manual is: Transitions to a Heart-Centered World by Guru Rattana, and my go-to video is: Radiant Body Yoga: Sun Energy with Kia Miller.


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