Here are a few tips I have found very helpful for implementing healthy habits
(Or how to eat more kale, drink more tea, stress less, exercise more, help others, and more).
1. Start Small
Start with some ‘mini goals’ that make it super easy for you to succeed. Take upon yourself something you want to add to your life, and set aside a specific time or place to accomplish it.
For example: If you want to eat more veggies, instead of adding them to every meal which can be a drastic change, add them to one meal, for some time, succeed, and move on to your next ‘mini goal’!
2. Celebrate the Little Successes
Be proud of yourself for accomplishing your ‘mini goal.’ This part should be really fun! Pat yourself on the back and then treat yourself to a bath, a nap, or any other type of self-care.
3. Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself
If you saw your friend trying to do what you were doing, would you say “What’s wrong with you why can’t you do this?” Or would you cheer them on, and be extra kind? When we are thinking about ways to improve, we tend to be very hard on ourselves. So please, don’t be too hard on yourself. Rather, BE EXTRA NICE TO YOURSELF, forgive yourself if you slip up, and cheer yourself onwards.
4. Create A ‘Cheer Squad’
Studies have shown that it is much easier to implement healthy habits in the company of others. You can get together with friends or family and decide that you are all going to work on “X.” You would then act as cheerleaders and coaches for each other, encouraging each other, and celebrating each other’s progress.
5. Keep At It (Practice, Practice, Practice)
In the words of Maimonides, “Positive behavior characteristics are not acquired by doing great (positive) acts but rather by repeating positive acts. For example, giving $1,000 to one charity will not accustom a person to being generous, whereas giving $1 to 1000 different charities rehearses the trait of generosity in that individual. That repeated action of giving regulates that person to continue giving. By repeating an act many times, an established behavior or emotional pattern is formed. In contrast, one great act does do some level of good, but the motivation may disappear shortly thereafter.”
When instating new healthy habits like of being more grateful, kind, optimistic
judging less, being more present, being a good friend and family member, stressing less… It’s important to realize that they need to be practiced over and over and over again. It takes a lot of repetition (and patience and love) to create a new habit.
So, here's to healthy habits, AND HERE'S TO YOU!
We start off slow, and then boom my teacher throws in an extra long Utkatasana, which is literally defined as “intense pose.” I stop breathing, and start counting down. ‘How much longer’ I keep thinking. My thighs! My Thighs! She can’t possibly keep us here for that much longer can she?
This is also true when I teach this pose. Before reminding my students to breath, gripping, tightness, and anticipation for the pose to be over are very evident. When unwelcome situations arise our first instinct is to hold our breath until they are over.
One of my teachers once asked us while we were in a “hard” pose, “what would you have to do to be here all day?” Some suggestions I’ve collected: breath, soften my gaze, release my jaw, and relax my shoulders down my back and away from my ears.
The hard yoga pose can really be substituted for the hard parts of one’s day/month/year. Think about situations where you tend to tighten.
When something hard comes your way you can:
1) Tighten - get annoyed, angry, anxious holding on for dear life, waiting for whatever “it” is to be over, so you can breath again.
2) Soften – release, relax, and remember that whether you like it or not you are going through whatever it is we are going through, and the only way out is through.
Why not then, make the journey bearable, easier, and lighter?
The choice is up to you. You don’t always get to decide what happens to/around you, but you can decide how you react.
So the next time you are presented with a “hard pose” on the mat or off, ask yourself “Where can I soften?”
Photo credit: yogajournal.com
I like to think about our minds as being the most valuable real estate property, and our thoughts as being the "tenants." To get into the best properties, potential tenants are usually screened, and then presented to a board before they get approved.
Our minds work a little differently. They allow thoughts to enter it without any type of screening. And they have the potential to effect us, for better or for worse.
The answer? Moving through the day mindfully, consciously aware of of our thoughts as they come and go. This way, there is no "good" or "bad" thoughts, rather there are thoughts that you chose to have there. They are welcome and wanted. They are like a good room-mate or neighbor. A pleasure to have around.
Today: Dedicate 5 minutes to paying attention to your thoughts, allowing them to come, and choosing which "tenants" you want to allow into your most valuable property, your mind. This can be done in a comfortable seated position, or as you move throughout your day.
Photograph via http://www.occupy.com/
I just wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you. Here, on my blog, I will share advice and inspiration that will hopefully make you laugh, cry, and wonder. If you ever have any questions, comments, or feedback please reach out to me. Wishing you all an amazing day!