How to Form a Habit (a report on my 2013 yoga resolution)
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on February 1st, 2013

Since we are now in February, it’s time to report on the 2013 resolution I made public in my blog post First 2013 Resolution — A Regular Yoga Practice posted on Dec 30. As I wrote then,  one of my primary life goals is to be strong, supple and agile at 85 and I’m convinced nothing is better for that than a combination of swimming and yoga.

I’ve had no problem maintaining a regular swimming practice, but with yoga I’ve been far more spotty. I took a class on Dec 27. Prior to that I’d not attended a class in four months. And I’ve always lacked the discipline to practice regularly on my own. When I’ve gotten into a steady rhythm, it’s been by attending classes.

In choosing this as a resolution I hoped to improve on my discipline, so I wouldn’t require the reinforcement of others plus a teacher to practice.

In an earlier post, A ‘Recipe’ for Successful Resolutions one tip I cited was Small is Beautiful. Set modest resolutions to enhance your chances at success. So I resolved at first to do yoga for just five consecutive days, and for only 25 minutes each day. Starting with that that class on Dec 27, I achieved my resolution of 5 consecutive days on Jan 1. Three of those days had been home practice.

With my only resolution already achieved on the first day of the year, I decided to carry on, resetting the goal to practice yoga at least 5 days a week throughout the month. With January over, here’s how I did: I practiced yoga 26 days out of 31, never skipped more than one day, and today was my 11th consecutive day of practice, carrying a streak into a new month, as I had at the beginning of January.

Besides setting a modest goal, I also set up a reward system, marking each day’s practice on a calendar, using a code like YH25 (Yoga, Home, 25 min). I got jazzed filling in the boxes on the calendar page. And since I recorded how many minutes I practiced, I also know I practiced for a total of 12 hours and 35 minutes last month.

To aid my resolve, I also worked yoga into my daily writing routine. I set a timer for 50 minute intervals of writing. After completing each interval, I would often take a 10-minute yoga break, before starting on my next 50-minute writing interval. I found the yoga breaks mentally and physically refreshing, making it easier to keep up my writing schedule. In the end, it didn’t take discipline at all. It becane something I enjoyed and looked forward to — as I already do to the 30 minutes I’ll do early tomorrow.

Since one characteristic of the Expert Mind is to reset goals at a higher level once achieved, my Feb goal is to practice for 5 days out of 7 again but for a minimum of 30 minutes.  To maintain my streak, on at least two days I had to pull out my yoga mat and do my 25 minutes just before going to bed. But it never felt like a chore. In fact, it’s starting to feel like a habit.

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One Response to “How to Form a Habit (a report on my 2013 yoga resolution)”

  1. Nancy says:

    Hi Terry,

    I find it interesting and motivating to read about your current yoga practice!

    Since December I’ve been wanting to introduce you to the Egoscue Method http://www.egoscue.com , and especially to Pete and Brian, who head the organization, based at the San Diego clinic. (Or perhaps you are already acquainted.)

    The Method utilizes some yoga stretches and much more. I’ve used the Method for more than a few years and especially appreciate its supporting philosophy, which, to my way of thinking, nicely overlaps with your TI philosophy. Both ways of thinking and moving now support my active lifestyle.

    (I am not affiliated with Egoscue nor compensated in anyway for this post.)

    Thank you again for accommodating your swim instruction to my needs last May in Pittsburgh, and for your books, DVDs, online videos, and postings here. Even with irregular pool visits, I’m continuing to progress in my swimming with breathing. I can’t imagine having done this or continuing it without TI support!

    Gratefully,
    Nancy

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