How important is routine?
We’re all individuals so the answer is going to be very personal.
The important thing is to understand how important it is TO YOU!
That is going to depend on your lifestyle, your hopes, dreams and aspirations, your personality and more…
However, it’s becoming widely understood that, if you would like to advance towards a goal, working on it each day is by far one of the surest ways to reach it.
It’s not rocket science!
It’s a strategy that’s been used by many successful people from the likes of Benjamin Franklin & Winston Churchill to Tony Robbins & Oprah Winfrey and Tao Porchon-Lynch – the “oldest yoga teacher in the world”.
Making a Routine
We can create a list of “Dailies” – those small, daily steps we take towards a goal.
Say, for example, you want to:-
Speak another language
Be more mindful
Feel better in your body
Rather than trying to carve out big chunks of time in our lives, we need only concern ourselves with taking a small step each day, knowing that we are drawing ever nearer.
Make it something that you can do every single day – even if it’s just for five or ten minutes.
So, to continue the examples, each day you might:-
Complete an online language lesson
Write in a journal
The consistency will pay off.
Not only will daily efforts boost Motivation, this strategy also helps us to :-
Release any Worries about the Future
Let Go of any Attachment to an End Goal
In yoga this state is described by the Yoga Sutras as ~ “Santosha“
Here are some great examples of how something small, with consistency, brings change:
(Photo courtesy of www.boredpanda.com Click for Full article)
The Human Body
Think about the breathwork, postures and movements you repeat in your yoga practice. Now look at the photos above. Repetition of something – however small – effects change. The physical results of your practice may not be quite so visible to others.
They might be:-
- More Strength
- Less Pain
- Greater Flexibility
- Less Anxiety
- Increased Functional Range of Motion
They could be a multitude of things. (Read about the scientific research into how yoga is medicine in Intro to Yoga: Modern Medicine is Catching Up)
The point is, if we’re taking repeated steps in that direction – however small – it will pay off.
Now think about all the breathwork, postures and movements you do each day, waking and sleeping. Then add in the fact that the human body is incredibly adaptable. Repetition of anything – however small – is going to have an effect. That’s why it’s so important to take your yoga off the mat.
The Human Mind
Very linked to the body, the same applies here. In yoga we use things like Pratipaksha Bhavanam (in a nutshell: replacing crappy thoughts with nice ones) and Mantras (repeating a word or phrase over and over). These tools allow a mindset where thoughts no longer tear about the place:-
a) Without the thinker really being fully aware of them.
b) With the thinker being so acutely aware of them, they’re unable to function at their highest level.
c) A strange oxymoronic blend of the two.
Instead, the yogi has control of the mind.
Thoughts, whether carefully considered or reactionary, create neural pathways. How conscious are you of yours? What pathways are you creating daily?
Read more about Yoga & Neuroplasticity here.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I sometimes hear myself saying three little words internally, “I can’t cope”. I don’t know how long that was going on before I caught onto it. It’s funny, a decade ago I would have said I was totally conscious and in control of all my thoughts. But I believe that was my ego talking…
“I’m not nearly young enough to know everything.” ~ Oscar Wilde
The Human Spirit
Do you have Passion, Purpose and Faith – in your life? In yourself?
We see more and more westerners flocking to yoga. As a reprieve from the external world. As a respite. As a place to leave their roles – husband, mother, sister, brother, bossbabe, addict, healer, other – at the door. As a place to – sorry for the cliche but it’s true – Disconnect to Reconnect. We can get caught up so easily into earthly chores, thoughts and feelings so do we CONSISTENTLY take time out to disconnect from all that in order to connect into our human spirit? Through Yoga, Meditation, Movement, Volunteer Work, Therapy, Nature, Passions, Pleasures, Hobbies?
There is no “right way” – except the way that is right for you and that leads you to connect to yourself – your spirit and soul – more deeply.
The wonderful thing about “Dailies” is it really doesn’t matter if we miss a day here and there.
Once the routine is set, if life gets in the way one day (which it will)
it will be easier to come back to it the very next day.
The longer we stick to it, the easier it is to come back to it when we do falter.
The longer we leave coming back to it, the harder it becomes.
Believe me, you will “fall off the wagon” so to speak but don’t fret!
Just come back to it anyway.
After losing the momentum of daily attention, it may feel more challenging again but it will become easier to recover the ground and advance onwards every time you come back to your routine.
Rather than beating yourself up, let the knowledge of the progress that could have been made – had you not taken a break – inspire you back to and be the fire to fuel your ongoing daily attention towards your goals.
How is this Yoga?
In the Yoga Sutras, two of the main principles on which yoga is based are :~
Practice – Abhyasa
Non-attachment – Vairagya
The Yoga Sutras also state that in order to reach any goal, we must practise for “a long time”, “without a break” and “with all your heart”.
In this way we can find Peace and Progress.
I find it both interesting and beautiful that ancient texts – written millenia ago – hold a wisdom that can still help us so much in our current, ever-accelerating, modern world.
If you’re struggling to get into a daily routine, my recommendation is to:-
1) Do your “dailies” as soon as you can, preferably first thing in the morning!
(Not only will that get things checked off and out of the way but you’ll also have an awesome sense of achievement for the rest of the day, which is very motivating!)
2) Make it achievable on a regular-“slightly busy” day and…
3) On the really busy – or lazy 😉 – days… (or weeks!) if you just can’t manage it, Don’t Worry ~ Be happy, take it as a break and then come back to it with all your heart!
Adapted from the July Nirmala Loveletter, 2018. To sign up for the latest Loveletter, click here.
Jeannette Amy (Nette) Hopkinson (BSc Hons Sports & Life Sciences) is an experienced Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and Oneness Blessing Giver based in Andalucía.