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SCENERIO ONE: My alarm goes off and I hit the snooze and sigh “6am already? Why can’t I just forget yoga for today? I can handle my day without it. What I really want is more sleep.” The alarm goes off again and I decide to sleep in. Yoga practice will just have to wait.

What does it take to ignite the fire within us without igniting resistance?

SCENERIO TWO: I wake up to the sound of soft chimes on my smartphone at 6am. I start with my intention for the day. “I want to bring more compassion and understanding to myself and others.” I say it a few times and then let it fill my heart as if it were already so. I remember how challenging the day can be when I’m not prepared internally or when I start the day out of sorts. I recall how aligned and centered I feel when I do my morning yoga practice. I make my way to my yoga mat and take three deep slow breaths as I prepare to practice.

Meeting myself at my yoga mat at 6am can be a battle or a joy depending on my own state of mind. Struggling to practice something that is good for me can be stressful unless I embrace the struggle and see the value in it.

What does it take to ignite the fire within us without igniting resistance?

As yoga practitioners, we understand the value of creating and maintaining positive habits. It requires a fair amount of discipline. For some the word discipline sounds punishing and invokes a sense of resistance, but interestingly enough the act of discipline involves igniting inspiration as a way to move towards something that has a positive outcome.

When we challenge ourselves to do something that is a little out of our comfort zone, we are encouraging ourselves to “rise up.” We ignite our inner fire that fuels discipline.

Think about the times that you had to do something that required you to act out of your “comfort zone.” Often, it’s hard at the beginning, but when you dive in, you end up feeling a sense of inspiration and joy.

I remember hearing stories of the great depression. My parents and grandparents talked about what it was like in the “good ole days” as if it was a happy time. They would talk about overcoming great obstacles with a glisten in their eyes and joy in their hearts. How can it be that struggle creates joy? It’s because it calls us to be brave, have courage, and be strong in the face of adversity. We begin to create space for our biggest selves to emerge. Finding our strength fills us with a sense of accomplishment and joy.

How can it be that struggle creates joy?

Finding Your Edge in Yoga

In our Yoga practice, we look for that edge of comfort/discomfort and we soften into it. We learn to lean into discomfort as training for when life presents us with challenges. We begin to get comfortable amidst life’s ups and downs.

Rather than waiting for difficult times to practice getting comfortable with discomfort, we can begin now to train ourselves with even the small challenges in our everyday lives.

How to Create Joyful Challenges for Yourself Everyday

During Exercise

  • Try something new. Break out of your routines and go dancing, take a different route when you walk, get on a bike, do some water walking, lift some weights.
  • Park further away than you usually do when shopping or going to appointments. When we park our car a little further away, we challenge ourselves just a little.
  • Turn the heat down just a couple degrees so you have to move more to stay warm.

With Nutrition

  • Try new foods; pick up something new and different each week.
  • Challenge yourself not to eat the same thing twice in a week. See if you can eat more widely.
  • Eat a little less and see what you notice if you stop before you are full.

Yoga Practice

  • Practice staying longer in postures or meditation
  • Try a pose that you normally wouldn’t do
  • Wake up earlier to start your yoga practice

In Relationships

  • Listen with compassion to someone who may be suffering
  • Allow others to support you even if you don’t feel comfortable accepting support
  • Take a risk and share your feelings with someone you love

When we challenge ourselves just a little we experience small victories that allow us to reclaim our strength, flexibility, and tolerance. We have the choice in each moment to lean into our discomforts as a way to polish ourselves so we can make difficult transitions with ease and grace. Or we can hit the snooze button.

How do you inspire new habits that take you to a new level of health and well-being?

 

Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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