“If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time” -Unknown.
All too often people start yoga with the goal of doing backbends and headstands because…they look cool? To impress your friends? Instagram? So you can say you can? But my question is this: why do you feel the need to do that?
Obviously these poses exist for a reason. They are advanced way to work on your flexibility and strength, and frankly, inversion feels good! BUT, the majority of the population rushes into these poses too quickly which results in injury. Should someone who just completed their first 5k run a marathon the next week? Should someone who just learned how to swim sign up for a triathlon? Most of the time the answer is going to be no. But are these excellent goals for people to have to encourage them to advance in their practice? ABSOLUTELY!
In regards to yoga specifically, I want to encourage people to go back to the basics. Yoga isn’t a competition to see who can do the most advanced poses. It’s not for social media. And if you’re reading this you probably already know that I use yoga to assist with medical limitations. Use yoga to better yourself whether it be for physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological gains. By returning to the basics you’re also addressing technique, muscle control, and form which is only going to assist with the more advanced postures.
Now that my rant is over, I also want to hit on the point that it is so good to have goals! It motivates us. It inspires us. It gives us purpose. I require every person I work with to set goals during our initial evaluation. This encourages us yogis to take charge of our own health. Plus, if we have goals, chances are we’re going to do yoga on a more regular basis. But pace yourself. Listen to your body and be safe.
So what makes a good goal? Of course I’ll be assisting you with this while we’re working together. But for those of you who are not currently working with me, this is for you. To begin, I’d encourage you to do a lot of reflecting while you’re setting your goals. Ask yourself:
- Why is it important for you to obtain that goal?
- How will you know you’ve met your goal? Be specific and make it measurable.
- Do you have a deadline for meeting this goal? If not, set one and make sure that it is reasonable.
- What elements/steps go into meeting your goal? Break it down.
- What can you do to promote the success of meeting your goal?
Tip: For more insight I highly recommend reading High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become that Way by Brendon Burchard (referenced below).
For example, let’s say you have a goal of getting up and down from the ground easier. Why is this important? Well, it would make gardening easier. It would make playing with your dogs, or kids, or grandkids easier. It would make it easier to get up after a fall (but please don’t fall). Putting it in a context like this would likely make you more motivated to achieve this goal.
So how will you know that you’ve met this goal? “Easier” is not a good way of measuring this. How about “I will be able to stand up from my grandson’s floor without anybody or any object helping me” ? Good. Next step.
Setting a realistic deadline is important. You want to give yourself enough time to properly prepare for this goal. On the flip side, you don’t want to make it so far away that you don’t take any steps towards it. Think about where you’re at right now and how much time you have to devote to making this goal happen while you’re setting your deadline. “I will be able to stand up from my grandson’s floor without anybody or any object helping me in 6 months”. That sounds a whole lot better to me than “I will be able to get off the ground easier”.
Now that you have your goal, I couldn’t say it better than Jill Koenig- “If a goal is worth having, it’s worth blocking out the time in your day-to-day life necessary to achieve it.”
Moving forward, break your goal down into smaller elements/goals. Look at specific yoga poses that will help you reach your goal. Practice getting up and down from lower and lower surfaces. Look at your routines and see where you can implement changes to support a more active lifestyle to assist in reaching your goal. I encourage you to reach out to your peers and those around you to get ideas! Not only will this likely give you ideas, but it’ll help hold you accountable towards your goal (i.e. promoting the success of meeting your goal).
Please reach out to met if you have questions about poses that would be good for you to include in your practice, how to safely reach a certain pose, or how to set appropriate goals. I’d be honored to help you with the process while helping you safely advance in your practice.
Burchard, B. (2017). High performance habits: How extraordinary people become that way. Carlsbad, California: Hay House, Inc.