Is Your Life A Hot Mess? Try These Yin Yoga Baby Steps to Self-Discipline
The catalyst for making changes and improving your life can come from just about anywhere. Something may inspire you, scare you, or even infuriate you to start renovating your life and moving in a new direction. The ability to follow through on the change you want, however, comes in large part from self-discipline.
Photo by Me & Her Photography It takes self-discipline to make a decision to do something radical and see the process through. And the act of implementing this discipline can be difficult, especially if you are out of practice. The two big reasons are:
1) You feel your life is too hectic and out of control. Life is busy and you don’t really get a break from living it. It can leave you feeling suffocated by your responsibilities and circumstances. For people who feel wildly out of control, applying self-discipline can feel like further restriction. When we feel restricted, it often forces us into a deprivation model for our lives. We deprive ourselves of something and then, in a moment of "weakness" we cave and over-indulge in the very thing we didn’t want to do.
If, for example, you decide you want to have a healthy diet so you start to eat nothing but boring salad after boring salad, all day long. Then late at night, feeling victorious at how well you did and ravenously hungry (because boring salad really isn’t enough to sustain you), you “reward” yourself and eat a bag of cookies. This is so irrational, but if you have ever been in this cycle you know exactly what I mean. We feel the need to reward our hard work with the very habit or thing that is keeping us down.
2) Another reason our self-discipline may be less than Herculean, is because we feel powerless. After enough rounds of playing Holy Salad Daytime vs. Evil Cookie Nighttime, you just give up.
"I have tried to eat well", you cry into your shame-filled cookie bag, "but I just can't, it's too hard and I am too weak".
Basically, you made a promise to yourself and didn't keep it. You did it that over and over again until you just don't believe that you are trustworthy enough and strong enough to move forward.
Yin Yoga and Self-Discipline
I know you might be thinking that it is very far-fetched that a few yoga postures are going to somehow undo feelings of powerlessness and magically give you more control over your life. But the very same principles that one needs to build strength and self-discipline to practice Yin yoga can be applied out there in the world. In order to practice Yin Yoga, all you need to do is hold stillness in a posture, relax, and let go.
- To be still, you must commit to holding the pose no matter what your experience is. You do nothing but hold the pose whether it is comfortable or uncomfortable.
- To relax, you simply decide to stop creating unnecessary tension in the body and mind.
- Letting go means that whatever comes up—whether it be thoughts, emotions, physical sensations—you choose not to respond.
We practice these principles in small increments—usually for 3-5 min at a time (think of it as interval training for self-discipline)—and each time we follow through, it builds our own sense of being a trustworthy, in-control person who can both let go when we decide to, as well as follow through with whatever we need to do to have a more positive impact on the world around us. The beautiful part is that in cultivating more self-discipline through a Yin practice we are also nourishing our body, mind, and spirit at a deep level.
Pulling my life together via stillness, relaxation, and letting go? Sign me up!