“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” — Angela Duckworth

I love this quote as I think we can all relate to it. We decide to take up a new hobby and throw ourselves into it with a passion. A few months down the road and often the equipment related to the said hobby is on its way to the local charity shop or gone into that black hole that is the attic storage space or into the already overcrowded garden shed. (I still have a set of Tablas that I am determined to learn how to play – the enthusiasm waned since they were first purchased on a bit of a whim in a music shop in Temple Bar a few years ago!)

Many years ago, we were out in India with one of our Yoga teachers. The retreat was huge with hundreds of people attending. I mentioned to him that it was amazing that so many people were inspired to practice in India after a brief introduction to the practice, as there were many beginners there. He said, “Let’s see how many of them are still practicing next year”.

Why is it so hard to maintain a regular Yoga practice?

Our teacher's experience confirmed Angela Duckworth’s quote. As teachers ourselves, we have seen the same thing. We’ve had students tell us that Yoga completely changed their lives for the better and that they couldn’t imagine what life would be like without having that anchor of practice and yet over a relatively short space of time, for the same students we have seen their practice slip away. Why does this happen?

Often it is a stressful event (in personal or work life or, indeed, a pandemic) that knocks out the rhythm of regular practice. Ironically, it is during a time like this that a Yoga practice serves us so well. An established practice gives us the tools to stay present, to breathe, to feel, to live life regardless of external circumstances.

Lifestyle choices for physical and mental well-being

If we want to reach our full potential, taking time out for ourselves is essential. The body is incredible – it wants to be healthy – it needs to move.

We totally have the power to make choices to help our bodies thrive – to choose an appropriate Yoga practice that keeps our muscles, ligaments, bones and joints strong – that keeps our digestive and lymphatic systems clear and is supportive in eliminating toxicity. We personally recommend a balance of dynamic and yin practices to deliver the most effective benefits.

We have the power to choose daily routines to support our mental health. Breathwork, meditation and relaxation practices all help to regulate our nervous and endocrine systems, enabling us to navigate life with calm and ease, to sleep well and to generally maintain balance, in the midst of a pretty chaotic world.

Making these types of healthy lifestyle choices support us in maintaining longevity. It is never too late to start but remember it takes time to really establish a practice. Patanjali tells us in Sutra 1:14:

'Practice becomes firmly grounded when it is well established for a long time, without interruption and approached with the correct attitude.' PYS 1:14

Notice when the mind starts to choose the easier options – to stay in bed in the morning rather than getting up that bit earlier so that you have some quiet time to yourself before the kids need to get to school or before you need to check work emails; to watch TV or check the phone in the evening rather than choosing a practice to help you wind down after the day; to crave the sweet treats or the few glasses of wine rather than the healthier alternatives.

Forming healthy habits

Science has now demonstrated that healthy habit formation is way more effective in a group than when we go it alone. If you are struggling with making Yoga practice part of your routine, we encourage you to join a class – online or in-person – to leverage the energy of the group dynamic. This really helps to kickstart your practice as well as helping you to stay motivated to stick with it.

As we move into the month of November, I suggest you start by making a 4-week commitment to yourself – to your body – to your mind – to your spirit. Set aside some time each day for your personal practice. It’s natural for our practices to slip – it is part of being human. The trick is to get back on the mat and that’s always the hardest part. So, take that first step and let the rest unfold.

Enthusiasm versus Endurance

In modern usage, Enthusiasm refers to intense enjoyment, interest, or approval expressed by a person. The term is related to playfulness, inventiveness, optimism and high energy. Its synonyms include fad, craze, pastime, hobby, penchant, recreation.

Endurance is defined as the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. Its synonyms include fortitude, patience, perseverance, strength, stamina, tenacity.

I can guarantee that you will begin to feel a difference even after 4 weeks of enthusiastic daily Yoga practice. Imagine the longer-term changes when that practice becomes firmly grounded – when you move past enthusiasm into endurance – when Yoga is no longer just the latest craze but an integral part of how you live your life.With love, Paula.