Establishing A Healthy Habit
Updated: 6 days ago
I’ve been teaching yoga classes at Studio 34 for my teacher Morgan while he is away for five weeks. Morgan was my first yoga teacher (circa 2008) and I’ve been steadily attending his weekly classes since I started studying yoga. There were some breaks in the routine of course (acupuncture school, which required an early train to the suburbs, and the pandemic of course) but otherwise I’ve been a regular for more than a decade now.
Covering for Morgan always makes me slightly nervous. He’s been teaching yoga for 20 years and I’ve been teaching yoga for 3. His students are my fellow yogi colleagues of sorts so I feel even more committed to making sure they have a well-structured class with solid alignment cues.
In addition to covering his standard one hour early morning class on Tuesday mornings from 7-8am (I’ve still got three weeks left if you want to join me), I’m also covering two workshop-style “Advancing Asana” classes on Sunday mornings. And for those “Advancing” classes I felt the need to “advance” in widening the range of yoga poses beyond what I normally teach.
Yesterday in Advancing Asana I taught handstand with a backbend. While I can generally do a handstand, they’re not my favorite and I don’t seek them out. The backbending while upside down definitely took a bit more effort (and more practice on my part), and doing a handstand while a group of 10-20 eager students watch your every move is that much harder. Last time I taught handstand in a yoga class, I started to demo but didn’t quite make it into the actual handstand shape.
This time I was motivated to actually show the handstand in class AND to be able to show what helped me with the more lower-back-challenging backbend version of the pose.
Starting about a month ago I set a daily calendar reminder in my phone that simply said “Handstand.” I then located some wall space that didn’t have pictures hanging and every day for thirty days I kicked up at the wall, did a backbend, felt what I felt, took mental notes and called it a day.
When I taught handstand yesterday I kicked up fairly easily (a real win). But definitely most rewarding of all, I helped three people who had never done a handstand kick up at the wall and make it into the handstand shape!
What helped me start this habit was having a clear motivation. My motivations included the desire to be of service to the students who attended class, to cultivate my own willingness to be vulnerable, to try something new, and to grow alongside the students I was in service to.
If you’re going to implement something, anything, you have to be willing to stay connected to what is inspiring you. Without this clear commitment, habits will easily fall off.
I won’t pretend that I LOVED every handstand that I practiced throughout the last month. There were days when it was late (for me, who goes to bed so fabulously early) and I did the handstand simply for the sake of checking it off.
A practice is a practice because we practice it, so that’s fine too. You don’t always have to be excited or joyful about what you’re implementing. Expecting yourself to be full of wonder every time you approach your new habit will likely set you up for some serious come down.
Also, to be real, I did miss one day in the past month, and I’m ok with that. My energy is best in the morning and I didn’t make it into handstand early that day. When I finally looked at my phone it was way past 8pm, I was tired, and I simply was not willing to use up energy doing a handstand that late in the game (I generally go to bed around 9:00).
Even though I don’t have the pressure of showing a handstand while teaching a class anytime soon, I’ve decided to keep the handstand reminder on my phone and to keep doing handstands most days, just for the joy of it.
It feels good to change my perspective, to trust myself to find stability within freedom, to get some blood to my head.
Maybe you have no interest ever in doing a handstand, but maybe there is some small thing that feels approachable and reasonable to start to scale into your daily routines. Once you’ve identified your motivation, write that down, and write out a plan for how and when you might implement your new habit.
Knowing your own rhythms is essential here. Maybe you’re a night owl and want to wait till my bedtime to begin your habit, that’s great! Maybe you have a very variable schedule (like me) and so it might be helpful to think through your coming day the night before so that you can envision where and how your habit will fit in.
Whatever it is you want to do, this is a great time of year to say yes to yourself. We’re entering the earth phase of the calendar year and the earth is all about stability and regularity and routine. The earth organs are digestive organs and are amongst the workhorses of the body. Eating, drinking, pooping are big parts of how we maintain our energy and our health.
What are you wanting to implement in the coming month? Drop me a line and let me know! I would love to hear from you. xoxoxoxo