Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
This year, like most years, disgusted with myself for holiday excesses, I go on a frantic fitness binge in January.
Running is part of it, of course. This year, I have added a push-up challenge (attempting 50), squats, calf raises, and planks.
If our rec center reopens as planned on January 4, I will probably return to Body Pump class, but I will attend the virtual class at noon when I am usually the only student in attendance.
I take a deep breath and confess: I have a love-hate relationship with yoga.
Yoga always makes me feel so good. Afterward.
While I am actually doing yoga, I feel so…well, so much like a bumbling noob, even though I have been practicing off and on for 15 years.
I have always adhered to the conventional wisdom that says it takes 21 days to form a habit. With this in mind, I have participated in 21 Days of Yoga (by the way, the sleep meditations on this channel are uh-may-zing), done Yoga Challenge classes, and taken part in a 30 Days of Yoga series.
If a habit forms in 21 days, a 30-day series must cement it securely in place, right?
Unfortunately, no. According to the latest research, it takes an average of 66 days of repetition to form a habit, not 21 as was previously thought.
When I realized that even if I did yoga every day, it would be well into March before yoga became a habit, the depths of my despair knew no bounds.
The best part of yoga class is often the pithy sayings casually tossed out by the instructors. Yesterday, as I was sweating and straining, rather than relaxing into the appropriate contortion, the yoga instructor said something about “getting your money’s worth” from the practice.
I had to pause the video, rewind, and listen again.
One of the tenets of yoga is the Law of Intention. At the beginning of each class, many instructors will ask you to set an intention for the session.
It’s a good practice.
Why am I twisting my body into impossible positions, stretching tight muscles, and holding poses longer than comfort dictates?
Yoga helps develop flexibility and strength, true, but those are not my only intentions for the practice. I also want to develop the ease, the looseness, the softness that comes with yoga. I want slowness to seep into the corners of my life.
If I practice yoga haphazardly, not considering my goals, I am not getting my money’s worth (yes, the online classes are free, but still…). I am just going through the motions.
It is a good reminder to pay attention. To remember the reasons I am practicing yoga in the first place. To be fully present.
I gradually realize this maxim applies not only to yoga but other fitness activities too. How many times have I allowed my run to be hijacked by negative thoughts scrolling through my mind? How many times did I back off the amount of weight used in my strength training because “too old” crept into my consciousness? How many times have I not gotten my money’s worth?
And how many times have I not gotten my money’s worth in other areas of my life?
How many times have I skimmed sections of a book to get to the juicy parts? How many times have I been preoccupied when listening to a friend? How many times have I read the newspaper and watched a movie on TV at the same time? How many times have I been sidetracked by social media when my intention is to relax?
When I lose focus, I drift and cheat myself out of a significant portion of the experience.
This is the time of year when we often consider methods of self-improvement.
We will read more books, we think, organize our closets, eat healthier food, look at our phones less, keep in touch with our far-flung friends and family, learn a new language, study the entire Bible, and let go of old grudges.
All good aspirations.
A veritable buffet of choices for self-improvement.
We think that getting our money’s worth always means acquiring more. More choices. More personal development. More resolutions.
But what if getting our money’s worth means going deeper rather than broader? What if we get more value from focusing on one meaningful change instead of an array of them? What if considering the reason behind the change helps us keep our resolution, so we don’t forget it before Valentine’s Day?
What if getting my money’s worth from shaking up my fitness regimen doesn’t mean adding push-ups and planks and squats and Body Pump and yoga and, and, and…?
Maybe getting my money’s worth means less, not more.
Maybe I should make one meaningful change and focus my attention on remembering why I am doing it.
I believe I will choose the fitness activity that forces me to love “slow“. The one that brings a sense of ease and release to my life and transforms me from the inside out. The one where instructors dispense unexpected nuggets of wisdom along with tips on how to do a perfect down dog. The practice I love to hate.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20
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