My 100 Day Project is WRITING! After years of calling myself a writer, I've slowly fallen out of the habit of writing every day. Sometimes I lack inspiration, sometimes my to-do list takes over my day, and sometimes I'm just lazy or distracted . But the reality is that I'm always writing in my head. I have stories, funny conversations, and ideas to share, so it's time to get them out of this brain of mine. I'll be traveling quite a bit throughout these next 100 days, so my posts may not make it online at the time of writing, but I'll make sure they get posted the next possible time I get decent wifi.
In honor of starting this 100 days of writing, I wanted to explore the idea of habits, both building new habits and breaking old habits. I've spent the last week or so at my parents' house, and it's funny (and sort of annoying) how quickly I've slipped back into habits I had at 21, the last summer I really lived here, just by virtue of being in this house. For the past couple of years I've gotten so used to living my life on my own terms that it can be an interesting challenge to try to mix my routine and habits with those of my family. But as a people lover and former sociology major, it's always interesting to observe others' patterns and day-to-day existence.
For me, building new habits isn't that hard; when I want to do something I just do it (eat your heart out, Nike!). I've learned how to motivate myself and that I need to write down whatever it is I want to do in my planner and remind myself why I'm doing it. When I genuinely want something I can usually find a way to make it happen (or at least make whatever part of it is within my control happen) - that's part of being me. It's the breaking habits part that's the real challenge. I easily run on auto-pilot and too often my default activity is something I don't even really want to do, it's just a nasty habit I've picked up along the way that I can't kick. (When pausing between sentences to write this, I find myself clicking on all the other open tabs on my browser, getting distracted by emails and other to-dos, and scrolling mindlessly through Instagram...no reason why, no joy from it, just clicking and scrolling.)
I'm slowly learning to reframe the breaking of habits as building better, positive habits. Instead of stopping something or obsessing over the negative, I'm redirecting that energy or impulse into doing something positive. So rather than breaking the click and scroll habit, I'm building the habit of more focused writing where I allow myself to sit, think, and be when nothing comes to me. I'm giving myself the space and time to write without piling on all the other things I could or should be doing.
I worked in corporate wellness for several years and we used to tell our clients that it takes 28 days to create a habit, so we'd encourage month-long challenges and programs to influence behavior. I'm stoked that this is 100 days, because that means I'll REALLY solidify these new habits, right? The most successful programs we ran included personal motivations and built support and accountability systems with coaching. For these next 99 days, I'm counting on the online community of #The100DayProject participants to keep me motivated and accountable. Here we go!
One of my favorite things to teach in yoga is inversions: headstands, and handstands, and forearmstands (oh my!!). They’re fun, challenging, require strength and control, and help us push past fears on and off our mat.
In our Instagram age, it’s easy to get caught up in mastering a specific fancy-pants pose to take a photo, which many people will argue is the opposite of the goal of yoga. Students want to progress into poses they’re not necessarily strong or flexible enough for because they look cool or they think that’s what yoga is all about since that’s what the “celebrity” yogis do.
While there’s always a risk of injury to seriously consider, I try not to stress out too much over the obsession with picture-worthy poses. Even if you consider yourself a yoga purist, you know that if you spend enough time doing poses, you’ll inevitably get something more out of your yoga practice.
One of the things I DO love about Instagram yoga, or using a camera/phone to record your practice is that photos and videos can help you document progression, set and reach goals, and prevent some serious injuries from misalignments.
Lots of sports use video analysis. As a high school tennis player my coach showed us slow-motion videos of our serves and strokes to see where we could get more power and better control. (And she had to rewind a VHS tape, now it’s so easy!)
I used to have the hardest time holding my handstand. No matter how hard I tried, what cues teachers gave, or how often I practiced, there was something about it that just didn’t click. But as soon as I saw a video of myself, I realized what my teachers were talking about. My super flexible banana-back was causing me to flip over; and the “knit your ribs,” “draw your hips to your ribs,” “engage your core” comments made a lot more sense. By watching videos of my handstands, I was truly able to become an observer of myself, analyze what was happening without judgment or frustration, and become my own best teacher. For me, THAT’S what yoga is all about.
There’s no special club or magic shortcut to inner peace through inversions or advanced poses (and I would argue that holding poses in a more basic variation is actually much harder, but that’s another post!). The same can be said for being too strict with yourself and how you approach your practice. So play, have fun, flip, roll, challenge yourself, take pictures, film it, and then remember that it’s just yoga – whatever that means to you.
Helen's Adventures as a Traveling Yogi
Follow my adventures on social media!