September always gets me excited. The turn of the season and start of the school year always stimulates my enthusiasm for setting new goals. I crave a fresh start in all corners of my life - personal, family, work, and social.
But September also winds up rushing me around and over-filling my date book. And new big goals can quickly become another stress on my list of things to do.
Rather than making more stress for myself, I have to remind myself that when I slow down, and simply take small steps in the right direction, I actually create the sustainable changes I am truly looking for.
My faith in how much benefit we get from making little changes, progressively, was solidified a few years ago through an experience I had with my son, William.
William was born with a life-threatening allergy to gluten and wheat. That means that if he ate a 'cheerio' handed to him by a well-meaning toddler, he would stop breathing. William was so allergic that he would have an anaphylactic reaction if he were merely kissed by someone who had traces of wheat on their lips.
In 2012, the severity of his allergies earned us an invitation to participate in Mt. Sinai's Clinical Trial Study designed to build immune system tolerance to wheat.
Every other week for two and a half years, William was given microscopic amounts of wheat in progressively larger doses. He started with 6 milligrams—just shy of the amount that would trigger his anaphylaxis. For context, a teaspoon of wheat is about 2,700 milligrams.
Over the course of the study, my son went from being unable to tolerate a wheat-on the-lips kiss to being able to eat a slice of pizza with no reaction.
Milligram by milligram, William grew more resilient. This was life-changing for him. (Of course, life changing for my husband and I as well.)
We can all change our lives this way—slowly and gently, in tiny increments. However, we don't often believe this when we embark on a new wellness routine, whether it is working out, practicing yoga, meditation, or "dieting". We are so conditioned to approach everything in a "Get Results Now" kind of way; we just don't believe that taking slow, gentle approach to our body, our mind, and our life will work. It's just not something we are used to.
But I promise you, it does. The truth is: A little + often = a lot.
This is the approach that has most helped me to 'live my yoga' off the mat and in the daily moments of my life.
Regularity and consistency is key to bringing yoga from our mats (and cushions) into our lives. Creating a home practice of even 5, 10, or 20 minutes a day, and then using simply mindfulness techniques throughout the day, can be change your life. It has mine.
In my personal practice, I use an array of tools to grow more present and compassionate in small ways all day long: yoga, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation, deep listening, walking in nature, breath work, gratitude practices, and journaling.
There is no one way, or right way, to Live Your Yoga. What is important, is that you find the practices that help you refresh your body and mind, and return to your intentions daily. To help support you throughout September, each weekly blog I will offer simple tools and small practices.
Remember, even a few minutes a day, will make a big impact!
See for yourself... start a journal entry today... and see how you feel by January.
Also join me for a FREE class online on Yoga Journal's Webinar Series, September 27th. We'll enjoy a Autumn Balancing Practice: Restore Your Energy: Rooted and Replenished. Register here to participate. Remember it's Free!