Find Your Groove

Want to break old habits that are no longer serv­ing you and so­lid­ify new ones that’ll boost your health and hap­pi­ness? The se­cret is cul­ti­vat­ing dis­ci­pline, com­pas­sion, and pa­tience on the mat. Here’s how.

Yoga Journal - - Contents - By Chrissy Carter

We all need help cul­ti­vat­ing com­pas­sion, pa­tience, and dis­ci­pline. These three short asana prac­tices will get you started.

AS YO­GIS, most of us con­tin­u­ally strive to move through life more mind­fully. Yet some­times, de­spite our best ef­forts, we run into ob­sta­cles and re­act in ways that don’t serve us. We vow to cut back on sugar, then cave at the sight of cook­ies; we get down on our­selves for play­ing the com­par­i­son game when look­ing at so­cial me­dia feeds; we feel frus­trated if we can’t bal­ance in Bakasana (Crane Pose) dur­ing yoga class. Of­ten, these road­blocks are tied to our sam­skaras, the San­skrit term for the men­tal and emo­tional grooves, or habits, that we find our­selves fall­ing back into time and time again.

Whether con­scious or un­con­scious, pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive, sam­skaras make up our con­di­tion­ing and in­flu­ence how we re­spond in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions. Chang­ing these deeply in­grained pat­terns can be dif­fi­cult—even if those pat­terns cause us pain. The good news is that we can use our yoga prac­tice to ex­am­ine our sam­skaras, iden­tify what may be get­ting in the way of re­al­iz­ing our best in­ten­tions, and work with what we un­cover.

By ob­serv­ing our re­ac­tive pat­terns on the yoga mat and med­i­ta­tion cush­ion, we’re bet­ter able to rec­og­nize when we re­act mind­lessly in real life— and in turn, con­sciously shift our feel­ings, thoughts, emo­tions, moods, and be­hav­iors. For ex­am­ple, if you lose your bal­ance in Vrk­sasana (Tree Pose), look at how you talk to your­self. Are you kind? Or do you beat your­self up? Can you dust your­self off and try again, even when you feel like giv­ing up?

The most com­mon road­blocks I see stu­dents strug­gle with on a reg­u­lar ba­sis are self-crit­i­cism, frus­tra­tion, and lack of willpower. The fol­low­ing se­quences will help you cul­ti­vate the tools you need to work through your road­blocks, so you can break the pat­terns that no longer serve you and call in new ones that will help you live more mind­fully.

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