When we speak of yoga as a transformational practice, what does that really mean? One of the main goals of yoga is to overcome and transcend the samskaras. The samskaras are our habitual thoughts, emotions and behavior patterns. These samskaras are deeply ingrained into our unconscious. The goal of yoga, is to bring the samskaras into conscious awareness, so that we can transcend them.
To really understand this, it helps to think of unproductive ways that you react in specific situations. Let’s suppose you have a short fuse. Every time your boss asks you to work late, you blow a gasket and have a mini temper tantrum. And let’s suppose that you are vaguely aware that this is your tendency but you feel powerless to change it. This is where yoga can help.
For me, this aspect of yoga, the ability to recognize and transcend our habitual thoughts and actions, is the big draw. It is why I return to my yoga mat again and again.
Both the yogis and the Buddhists believe that the way to break this cycle of reacting to life on autopilot, is by practicing mindfullness. In Kripalu Yoga and in Prana Flow we are taught to keep our awareness on the breath and practice ujayi pranayama. It is the deep focus on the breath that connects us to the subconscious mind where many of these samskaras originate. As we fine tune our awareness with regular practice, it becomes easier and easier to eventually change some of these deeply ingrained habits.
As far as I know, in the classical yoga texts, there is no ABC manual that lays out a specific strategy for breaking bad habits. But due to some uncanny turn of events, recently such a manual has fallen into my hands in the form of a book entitled “The Compund Effect” by Darren Hardy. Although not written as a yoga text, there are clear parallels to the yoga practice, and I recommend this book as a “must read” for any serious yoga student.
In Hardy’s words ” I’m about to walk you through one of the single greatest strategies I’ve ever used in my personal development. This strategy helps me take control of the choices I make throughout the day, causing everything else to fall into place and leading to behaviors and actions that shepherd my actions into line like dutiful, loyal minions.”
Hardy then goes on to ask you to pick one area of your life where you most want to be successful. As you focus your attention on that area, you will be writing down all the actions you take throughout the day that relate to his area of your life. In other words, if you are trying to lose weight, you will account for every calorie that enters your lips by putting it in writing.
When practiced regularly (tracking your actions) you will begin to see a pattern emerging. Armed with this arsenal of knowledge, you will begin to make better decisions and choices for yourself.
I’ve actually personally used this exact method for losing weight. And I can tell you with total conviction that his is the only foolproof method out there that will encourage long term, sustainable weight loss. This method works every time if you are sincere in your desire to lose weight. Every other weight loss program or scheme out there is complete hype and will not give you the long term healthy relationship with food that you are seeking.
The reason I am so enamored with Hardy’s book is because there is only one way to change an ingrained habit and that is with total awareness of your actions. Writing it down forces that awareness.
With this end in mind, today I made a commitment to myself. I am going to test Hardy’s theory for 30 straight days. Most experts agree that it takes 30 days to break a habit or establish a new habit. I have chosen to make some changes to my wake up and bed time rituals. There are 3 behaviors that I wlll be tracking for 30 days.
If anyone is interested in joining me with a 30 day journey of your own, let me know and you can make a public statement here on this blog in the comments section. In addition I invite you to join my Facebook Group - Discover Your Magnificence With Yoga where you can also publicly announce your intention and stay connected to others on a similar journey by comparing notes and offering support.
And if you’re serious about making changes . . . . .
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