Monday, July 11, 2016

5 Things Dedicated Yogis Do to Stay on the Mat During the Summer

By Kirsten Cooper, CSOY Alumni & Ski Coach
It's hotter than Hades out there. As soon as you walk out the door you're hit with a wall of heat that relentlessly mocks your once dry shirt... Aaaaaaand you're choosing to go into a sticky, hot yoga room with 30 strangers who are sweating on you... Say whaaa??
Did you just make a face like you smelt your neighbor pass gas in yoga? I sure did. The sun is out, adventures and tan lines are waiting, and a hot, sticky yoga room sounds pretty terrible right about now. I practiced yoga in south Florida recently and when they opened the garage door in the studio I started sweating more and ended up in a puddle I made with the help of 20 strangers... Cue AC anyone? I'm dying here.
Luckily, I've had a lot of practice in doing shit I didn't want to do while I was a ski racer (think 6am chairlift rides in -30 degree weather. Ya, ain't nobody got time for that) and I've listened to a lot smart and successful people who speak of how they create space for productivity. Here are some strategies that can help us stay on track with our goals and hopefully keep you getting to your mat all summer (maybe even all year!).
1. Set yourself goals in manageable chunks.
    Rather than saying "I'm going to practice 4 days a week all summer," try saying, "I'm going to practice four times this week" or whatever number is reasonable for you.  This takes some pressure off so you don't begin your action plan already thinking you're gonna fail.
2. Plan for success.
   Sticking with the 4 days per week example, try sitting down on Sunday evening with your weekly schedule and find those 4 classes you can make work. Know what times of day you like to practice and choose in those time frames. Word of caution here, if the only class you can attend with work and life is 6 am and you don't consider yourself a morning person, consider that may just be an excuse for you. Many of the most productive and successful people in the world speak of waking early because they want to utilize all the time they can to be the best version of themselves they can be. No one LIKES getting out of bed early, they do it because something else is more important than holding on to their precious identity of not being a morning person.  Supposedly 21 days makes a habit, give the early riser M.O. a go with the attitude that you get up early simply because that's the person you're choosing to be.  If you get up early with that attitude for 22 days and still haven't changed your physiology to naturally rise early, I will walk around with a "kick me" sign on my back for 24 hours on day 23.
3. View it as an appointment with yourself.
   Would you just up and skip a meeting or a lunch date with your pals? I'm guessing no. So why do you feel it's ok to miss an appointment with you? You can build up trust with yourself to achieve goals by following through on the promises you make to yourself. BONUS: building trust with yourself builds confidence which can feel better than the yoga sweat session itself. Maybe with some confidence in you, tomorrow you can say hi to that hot yogi next to you.
4. Find your inspiration.
    As we discussed in #2, when the alarm goes off at 5:30 for that 6am class, rolling back over to sleep is gonna be a seductive temptress. Have you ever watched a movie or heard a song that has inspired you to throw down the potato chips and jump off the couch and go run despite the fact you haven't run in years?? Find a YouTube clip of that part of the movie or cue up the song on Spotify. Leave it cued up on your phone or tablet and press play when that alarm goes off. Who knows, you might end up screaming "ADRIAN!!" as you bound out of bed.
5. Get back on the wagon as soon as possible.
    Have you ever been on a diet and had that first bite of a cookie, thrown your arms up and said, "Whelp, blew that one. Now I just have to eat the whole thing"? No you do not! Put the cookie down! Same with your yoga; you roll over to go back to sleep? Get up. You miss the morning class? Go at lunch. You miss today? Practice at home (stay tuned yoga fans for a few tips on home practice at the end of this blog). If not at home, resolve to go tomorrow, just take action to get back on track ASAP. Just because you missed today doesn't mean you failed, go easy on yourself and get back on the wagon.
So there's a few ways to rig the game so you can't lose. What works for you? Get creative and keep this promise to yourself.
Lastly, for my friends who are struggling to get on the mat at home, I feel you. Mr. Matthew Hussey recommends "The five minute frenzy." Make it a game: set your timer for 5 minutes and try to do as many Sun Salutes in 5 minutes as possible (you can skip the chatturangas in the last few minutes because, let me tell you, you can do a lot of damn chatts in 5 minutes ). Lately I’ve been setting the timer on my coffee pot and going all out to see what I can get done before the sweet nectar is ready for consumption. The first time you do this you might just benefit from getting moving and maybe wanting to continue moving. The second time you do this, see if you can set a new record and get in a few more rounds (with safe form and healthy breathing of course). Thinking to yourself, "I'm totally not the competitive type, lady, I'm a yogi"? Well, maybe this will get you in touch with your inner ambitious badass and if not, I would bet that setting a 5 minute expectation would take enough pressure off to launch you into action.

Clear eyes. Full heart. Can't lose. Power on summer yogis!

Kirsten is a mountain girl at heart and that’s what brought her to yoga. She began practicing in 2006 as a way to supplement her ski training and has since found yoga to be a space of solace, which continues to be immensely therapeutic, both physically and mentally. She believes that by spending time to breathe deeply and move with intention, yoga can help anyone create an internal shift through which rejuvenation, further self-inquiry, and action arise.