The Effects of One Month of Yoga
Author and history teacher Grete DeAngelo, who considers herself to be a physically average person, decided to commit to a simple practice of yoga for 15 minutes a day over a period of a month. As the month progressed she reports that she began to feel less tension in her neck and shoulders, along with less painful twinges in her back. To learn a yoga routine she simply used an app for her iPad called Yoga Studio.
Reflecting on the month’s journey, Grete gained not only a better sense of physical well-being and freedom from pain, but also a series of insights into herself.
By committing to daily health practice she learned that there are other things in life that can be made into daily habits as well. For her these things were writing, reading to her children, and making sure the dishes were done before going to sleep. This grew within her a confidence that there was the ability inside of herself to build from small steps and construct the kind of life she wanted to live.
But these visions of self-improvement run the risk going out of control when people become obsessed with achieving certain goals at any cost, and feel great shame and a sense of failure if they don’t meet their own expectations. Yet Grete discovered that by setting modest steps, like 15 minutes a day for yoga, motivation gains an incredible boost. Overwhelming oneself with a task that is too ambitious has the opposite effect; it can become demoralizing because long-term goals require many steps. Focusing on one step at a time is the key to success.
Grete writes that she also learned a lesson in being realistic. The last time she attempted to make yoga a habit she had grand visions of working up to an hour a day of practice at a quick pace until shortly mastering difficult postures and attending advanced classes.
She attributes her recent success at finishing one month of daily yoga practice to not making any promises to herself about what she would accomplish. The only stipulation she set for herself was that she would do it daily for 15 minutes without and expectations for the outcome. This philosophy of just doing it without worrying about results had the paradoxical effect of bringing results (in less muscle tensions and pain) because the body doesn’t resist the mind’s unrealistic demands.