I’m so proud of anyone who accepts a challenge and embarks upon change. I know how hard it is from experience, and I’m proud of all of you participating in the 28 Day Spring Yoga Challenge.
I remember a time in my life when I said change was pretty much impossible. I thought I was fixed the way I was, take it or leave it. Any time I tried to change anything it would only stick temporarily, so what was the point?
Well, I’m glad to say because of yoga and meditation, I’ve changed my tune completely. I’ve learned that change is ABSOLUTELY possible and completely sustainable. This realization didn’t come quickly or easily, and that’s the part I want to shout out loud to everyone: change is NEVER quick or easy!!! There is no magic, no fast track, no pill, but the change will be lasting and more worth it than you can imagine.
For me it started by dedicating myself day in and day out to getting on my mat and choosing to do the hard work. Some days the hard work was just stepping onto the mat. Other days it was using props when I didn’t want to, doing poses that I ‘hated’, not giving up when I knew I had more in me, or resting when I really needed it. Over time I realized that what mattered wasn’t the issues that came up, it was how I faced them, moved into them, and made wise choices – this is what changed things. AH-HA!
I found that when I hated something, it was usually because doing it challenged my desire to look and be perfect. When I wanted to give up, it was because I’m a natural born jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type quitter. When I was forced to rest it meant holding still and looking into the corners of my mind, which terrified me.
So instead of doing what I usually did, I tried the opposite.
When I hated something, I tried it slowly with props, mindfully, without the story of hate, and not caring if I fell down. Shockingly, I got stronger and more stable. When I wanted to quit, I kept going and was surprised by what I was able to achieve each and every time. When I needed rest, I learned to sit and do mindful meditation. As it turns out my thoughts aren’t that scary at all – mostly they’re just past stories or things that will probably never happen.
None of this happened over night. It wasn’t easy, and to be honest I’m still working hard on ALL of this every single day. But, change happened on my mat and it seeped over into my entire life. Now I’m less afraid to look silly. I’ll try things I think I hate. I realize that I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t quit until I’m sure there’s no reason to continue. I work hard with my eyes and ears open. I hold still a lot, and every time I do I become more clear about myself, those around me and my relation to them. My list of ‘worth it’ changes is endless these days; there’s so much to uncover and learn.
It all started with learning why I shied away during my practice, what distracted me, why I skipped things. This is why your journal is there this week – what’s stopping you from getting on your mat, why do you leave your mat during your practice, what external sources stop you from doing the hard work? Put pen to paper and write those things down. When they’re written down they become clear and then you can make choices to solve these distractions.
Even this first step is hard – I know it – but you can do it! I believe in you. I promise when you pay attention and start to do the work, the change that will happen will be completely worth the effort.
Alex Crow is a YogaWorks teacher, YogaWorks teacher trainer, and MyYogaWorks online yoga instructor. Alex’s yoga classes offer a methodical, yet challenging, approach to yoga where she encourages students to pay attention to what their bodies need in the present moment in order to get the most out of their yoga practice. Check out Alex’s website, take one of her online yoga classes on MyYogaWorks, one of her public classes at YogaWorks Santa Monica, or connect with her on Facebook.