On New Years Day I joined some friends for a sunset yoga practice on the beach (yes, slightly showing off with that, remember I do live on a caribbean island). The objective was to do 108 sun salutations. Now as someone who doesn’t ‘do’ yoga this was a fairly big ask. I didn’t know what a sun salutation was for a start… Anyway, they said it would be guided (they would tell me what to do) so I thought I’d give it a go, being the 1st of January and all ( #newyearnewstuff ) BUT before you worry I’m going to start spouting the benefits of yoga/breathing/mantras blah blah blah – that’s not me quite yet (apart from maybe breathing – please keep doing that – that is good for you). However, I did learn something from the experience and it’s an idea that I’m going to hold onto and use for 2018, it was the concept of:
“Wait, what? WTF is intention? WTF are you talking about?” You say. OK, OK – I hear you, bear with me and let me explain…At the start of the yoga session, before we did anything, we just sat for a moment and one of the teachers asked us to close our eyes and decide on our intention for the practice. For non-yogas, like me, essentially this means that before we did anything, they wanted us to think about our objective/goal for the session. Crazy huh? Before doing something we had to think about the point of it and what we wanted to achieve in that session??!!!
At this point you are possibly thinking, “well actually no Davinia, that makes sense..” – which is fine. But for me it was a huge freaking moment of clarity. It is a step in every goal setting process – what do you want to achieve. Hell, it’s what I ask my students to do at the start of classes – think about what they want to achieve re. passing their exams. And yes it was something I do more generally (goals for month / year type thing). BUT I haven’t been doing it on a smaller scale – for each week or for each day or for individual tasks. And I think I need to.
Thinking about my ‘intention’ for the practice (which, in case you were wondering was to “keep on keeping on” during the practice, as in, not to just give up part way through) did help me with it. I felt a bit like I had made a promise to myself and had made a plan, we all know I love a plan, and so I needed to do my best to stick to it. This was important because a part of my brain has a habit of trying to talk me out of stuff when it gets “hard”. But this time it didn’t win. If I wanted to stop I took a break for one or two rounds, then carried on. I repeated my intention – “keep on keeping on” to myself and then I did, just keep on keeping on. I surprised myself at how something so simple was so effective.
I believe it links to the idea of goal setting and mini habits – which is something I have been interested in for a while and have done a lot of reading on. It is easy to get overwhelmed by things – yes you may have the new year motivation and excitement, but that often fades away pretty quickly. I think I read somewhere (don’t quote me on this) that by the 15th January, most people have broken their New Year Resolutions. They are often too big and too overwhelming. But you can take things a day at a time, an hour at a time, a meal at a time, and make mini goals (have an intention in yoga speak) which can feel more achievable. When you achieve it you then get a boost, more motivation, to continue for the next hour / day, and so on and so forth.
It is common to massively overestimate what can be achieved in a day or a week, but to underestimate what can be achieved in a year. It is the sum of the small things that make the big difference.
So each day I will be setting an intention. And for other tasks and activities too. If you had to set an intention for the next hour – what would it be?
P.S. I managed to follow most of the practice, with my little breaks, and racked up nearly 100 – well done me! Not bad for a yoga newbie! I did ache a little the next day though, no surprise really, but I could still move on the whole which is a bonus.
Picture credit – me 🙂 Taken just before the yoga practice!