The Yoga of Habit

Hello, New Year! This is the perfect time to create new habits and cultivate ways to improve your quality of life. Are you ready to live your best life?!

(BTW: There ain't nothing wrong with being content with where you are (santosha is a yogic principle, after all), so if you're skipping out on the resolution rage I totally get it!)

If you are excitedly reviewing a list of intentions/goals/resolutions for 2019, yet unsure of how to make them manifest, I wanted to offer some advice on the yoga of habit. Habits are ultimately how everything gets done, and there's a whole science (and yoga practice) around creating new ones. You see, your brain is stubbornly efficient at supporting the status quo.

FYI: It's easy to maintain current habits and harder to make new ones. New habits = new neural pathways. Luckily, it's mostly a momentum thing. Once you get moving, it's easier to create change.

So grab your list for 2019 and get ready to set yourself up for success! With these practices, you'll be on your way to disrupting your mental mode and bringing change into your life.

  • Know Your Why: Why are you making this change? Why is it important? What is your motivation behind the transformation you seek, and what will life be like with this new habit or goal in play? Dive deep into this and find the answers. This is probably the most important thing to do because in times when you are unmotivated, you’ll be able to reference your ‘Why’ by memory or going back to read what you unpacked if you wrote it down. Your ‘Why’ gives life to all your efforts!

  • Awareness of What Is: Before we can create change, we must be clearly aware of what is already in play. You can’t change the play without knowing the current one! Assess what is currently happening, whether it’s your lack of a particular habit (and how that’s impacting your life) or a negative habit wreaking havoc that needs to go. Come to understand the process of how the status quo of each area of your life unfolds daily. For example, if you’re a smoker looking to quit, determine what triggers you to smoke in the first place, what routines support your habit, what emotional frame of mind repeats to compel your addiction, etc.

  • Plan of Attack: Decide on your new routines and practices to implement your habit into your life. Visualize and imagine what it will be like to move through that routine. Imagine what it will feel like. You must create a new routine to replace an old one or create a new one at all. Write down a “plan of attack” to be sure you succeed—see it, feel it, then do it. Break down all the steps to success when it comes to specific goals or milestones you are aiming for. To get to Z, you must first do X and Y. Figure out the process, and then take small steps in a way that feels good for you.

  • Anticipate Your Brain: We all have triggers and well-worn mental pathways that trip us up. Analyze and know yours when it comes to implementing a new habit or destroying an old one (side note: in order to destroy a bad habit, you must implement a new one to take it’s place—for any kind of changes, you must create something new!). Set yourself up for success by avoiding the triggers that send you into the bad habit spiral. Take a new route home to avoid the temptation of Starbucks if you’re cutting back on coffee and sugar. Avoid watching TV late into the night if your tendency is to bite your nails when you watch something. Anticipate your brain and temptations by simply thinking ahead to avoid them. Finally, have a plan on what to do when you are faced with unexpected temptation to fall back into old habits. Think ahead in every way possible!

  • Let go of perfection: This is huge. Know that whatever your efforts to implement a new habit or a goal, your execution and results will never be perfect. You will falter, you will have weak moments, and you will forget. Keep showing up for your WHY and continue to get back up and recommit to the changes you want to make. This is a practice. Let it be a process. And let go of perfection—it doesn’t exist!

  • Social Accountability: Once you’ve decided on the change you seek, start sharing the news with others. Find a partner in crime, even. Aim for sharing with those who are supportive of your efforts, rather than negative types who won’t encourage you to reach your goals. Announce your intentions on social media. Write them down. Allowing your social circle into your process of change not only helps them keep you accountable, but it may also inspire your buddies to make their own changes. Peer pressure can work to your advantage and, when used well, help you move mountains!

That should do it! Know that implementing new habits or changes in your life literally is a reprogramming of your brain, the creation of new neural pathways. This is big, but so worth it! The beauty of it all is that you are adaptable and change is always possible with the right amount of dedication and discipline.

Have you successfully created new habits? Share what worked for you in the comments below!

Catherine ValadezComment