Making Movement a Habit
As we approach the new year, and my maternity leave during which I will not be holding live classes (*sob*), I thought it was very fitting when one of my students mentioned that they still planned to do yoga at 9am every Sunday during my leave even though I will not be teaching class. The concept of sticking to a specific schedule, or at least scheduling certain activities at a specific time, is actually a scientifically proven method to building habits. By continuing to do yoga at 9am on Sundays, that student is much more likely to continue to do yoga in my absence, as well as reduce the difficulty in returning to my 9am Sunday classes when I get back from leave.
So if you are looking to build some new good habits in 2022, specifically getting more movement in your daily life, you could start by scheduling it! It sounds too simple, but we all know how difficult it can be to fit a walk or a yoga class into an already packed schedule. I talk about this in my free download on how to create a home yoga practice, but 5 minutes everyday is always going to be better than an hour once a week. Consistency helps build habits (good and bad), so set yourself up for success by blocking out time everyday or every other day for movement. If you can schedule it at the same time that is even better as it helps solidify in your brain and body that at a certain time you are supposed to be on your mat, or walking out the door to go to the gym, or tying your shoes for a walk, etc. This is similar to how your body craves sleep around the same time every night because you have likely trained yourself to go to bed at that time. (unless you are one of those people who can go to bed at 8pm one night and midnight the next and keep changing bedtimes and still fall asleep quickly...I do not relate haha).
OK, but Kaitlin it is just not feasible for me to practice movement for 30 minutes everyday. Again, this is where consistency and building that intrinsic awareness (a habit!) that at 7am you are supposed to be starting your movement routine comes in handy. If you only have 5 minutes on Thursdays to fit in some kind of movement into your day, still show up at 7am and do it for those 5 minutes! Eventually this will become a habit, meaning you barely even think about the option of not doing it. Your brain will essentially build blinders around any other activities at 7am, which further promotes you sticking to that habit.
In my personal experience, when I am struggling with finding a rhythm in my days whether due to crazy schedules or my sleep quality has been off or it's just one of those periods in life when everything seems hectic, I almost always fall back on scheduling my movement in the early morning so I have at least one consistent block of time in my day. Movement is also my "me" time so when I make time for myself everyday or every other day, I can show up better for myself and others. And yes, I realize the irony of what I just said as I approach first time motherhood, but you best be sure I will be scheduling "me" time as best I can to set myself up for a less stressful post-partum period.
One more thing about scheduling before I end here - you might be wondering how to actually schedule something into your day, because maybe you don't use a planner or any kind of calendar. My suggestion is to set a reminder on your phone. But set it earlier than you need to. If your goal is practice yoga every other day at 7am, then set it for 6:45am because you're going to need to time to wake up, put some workout clothes on, maybe start the coffee maker, let the dog out, and whatever else you need to do before you start doing yoga. Eventually, you won't need the reminder, but it is very helpful when you are trying to build a habit.
Let me know in the comments what habits you are planning to build in 2022!
Resources for habit building
Hidden Brain podcast - Creatures of Habit episode
Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear