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how to form habits

How to Form Habits that You’ll Keep for Life

As the new year approaches, many of us begin thinking about the resolutions, goals, or intentions we want to set for the year ahead. And I don’t know about you, but I used to be hesitant about setting resolutions, because, midway through the year, my motivation would drop and I’d start slipping away from the behaviors I had so eagerly envisioned in January.

Commitment is hard, especially when it comes to life-changing habits and behaviors, like eating a vegan diet or consistently exercising. Whatever you repeatedly do forms the person you become, the things you believe, and the personality you portray. So if you want to improve, or form new habits, how should you go about it?

Over the years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for creating habits that endure past the last snowfall.

The 3 R’s to Forming New Habits:

Reminder– this is the trigger that initiates the behavior you’re trying to enact. Several weeks into your commitment, it can be easy to start slipping back into your old ways. Set a reminder to execute your habit every day. It doesn’t matter whether this is a phone alert, a physical cue, or something else – what matters is that you see or hear a reminder that prompts you to take action.
Routine– this is the behavior itself, or the action you take. Commit to 30 days of whatever habit you’re trying to form, whether it’s eating vegan, flossing your teeth, or practicing yoga. Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic, and a month is a good amount of time to commit to, since it easily fits in your calendar!
Reward– this is the benefit you gain from doing the behavior. If you’re committing yourself to creating a new habit, it most likely is because you want to improve on some aspect of your life. Therefore, there are usually innate benefits to forming the habit, such as a healthier immune system, stronger teeth, or a more toned body. But it doesn’t hurt to personally reward yourself, as well! It’s important to celebrate because we like continuing actions that make us feel good. Whether you quietly tell yourself “Good job. You made progress today!” or physically reward yourself with some form of treat, what matters is acknowledging your progress.

A Few Other Helpful Tips:

Find a Buddy: Find a friend who will join you in the pursuit of this new habit. There’s nothing like an accountability partner to keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.

Be Imperfect: You can’t expect your attempt to change huge lifestyle behaviors to be successful immediately. You might fall astray during your 30 day commitment, or it might even take longer to fully form. No worries, friends! Just expect a few bumps along the way.

Be Consistent in Your Timing: For habits like exercising and yoga (or flossing!), being consistent in the time you choose to practice is key. During your 30 day challenge, commit yourself to practicing your new habit at the same time each day, whether that’s morning, evening, or right after work.

building a toned body thru yoga

Building a Toned Body through Yoga

Summer is here and that means ice cream, gorgeous sunsets, and…bathing suit weather. Some of us are ready to show off our bikini-ready bodies, while others downright dread bathing suit season and just opt for the one-piece with the cover-up instead. What I notice is that the older I get, the harder it is to shape my midsection. Due to metabolism slowing down as we age, it takes extra attention on my part to eat healthily, and work out my body as a whole.

Many of us desire a strong, toned body. Contracting our muscles over and over again can cause the DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness) and pain if we don’t train mindfully. Beginners, as well as people who have never practiced, often think of yoga as a way to stretch and relax. This is partially true, of course, depending on the type of class and practice you are taking; however, a number of poses in Vinyasa classes require you to lift your own body weight. Think: Crow, arm balances and Plank poses. Yoga is the ultimate release and realignment tool because it not only builds strength but also sculpts a toned, sleek physique.

To build leg muscle:

Focus on poses that require standing for a longer amount of time. The Warrior poses (Virabhadrasanas in sanskrit) all strengthen your hamstrings and quadriceps, while also working on the rotation of the thighs, which is a serious challenge. Goddess pose (squats) build strength in the glutes & knee joint. Chair pose works your core, hip flexors, ankles, and calves (try chair up against a wall – -prepare for a super burn in the quad!). Tree pose stretches your thighs, while also strengthening your ankles.

To build core strength:

There are plenty of yoga poses that work your abdominal muscles. Plank pose and core planks are some of the best exercises for your core, especially as you work to hold it longer and longer. One of the most important tips to building strength in your core center is keeping the core engaged through the entire practice. Think of your 2 hip points like headlights shining forward. Now, it’s as if you were trying to draw those 2 hips points together to allow the headlights to cross at the navel. The abdominals draw toward one another and remain engaged throughout practice. We will continue to remind you to find a strong center as we often get lost with the other technicalities of the pose. Boat pose (Navasana in sanskrit) and low boat pose (Ardha Navasana) are also classic core yoga poses. Try mixing it up with some boat variations like twisting side to side or rocking your legs lower and higher, straightening your legs for a teaser. Power chair, leg raises, bicycle crunches and Locust are also great core poses. There’s seriously SO many core exercises to utilize in a yoga practice that it would be impossible to list them all.

To build arm strength:

When you’re ready to train your arms, try these poses. Side Plank (Vashistasana in sanskrit) requires you to support your body weight with only one arm, which works your shoulders and wrists. Crow pose is the one many people consider scary or impossible. With practice (and guidance) you’ll be able to master this fun asana. In fact, it is usually the first arm balance that we learn as beginners. The first time you reach Crow successfully, it’s like-whoa. — I can’t believe I didn’t face plant!

Each of these poses may feel like it’s targeting a specific part of your body. However, they actually require the use of multiple muscles at the same time. For example, side plank may make your arms quiver, but your obliques will hurt the next day too. Compound movements filtered into our Yoga Fever classes make building strength a more efficient reality because we encourage alignment and muscular engagement. It’s truly key to building strength and flexibility quickly. If you’re just moving your body from pose to pose without being cued how to engage and where, you are missing the Navasana (boat)!

As you can see, yoga is a great practice for building a lean, toned body. And all of these benefits are yours for the taking. But, don’t forget that like any exercise regimen, it takes work and commitment. Practicing yoga once or twice a week is just not going to cut it. Sadly, you’ll lose the physical advantage you gained and will take a step back if you miss too many days.

Bringing Yoga to Work 

While the time spent on your yoga mat at class several days a week certainly helps strengthen and soothe your body, it’s no match for the stress and tension you put on your body during the rest of the week. Whether you sit at a desk for hours on end, run around watching your children, or work a manual labor job, work places a lot of strain on your body and mind.

Most stress is a mental pressure we force onto our physical bodies, especially in the corporate setting where people operate furiously with their minds rather than their bodies. Simply hitting the gym after work won’t fix the problem. Instead, your body and mind need to be brought together to find a sense of peace and relaxation. Yoga is a perfect tool for transforming the workplace into a less stressful, more peaceful environment.

Bringing yoga to work with you can offer so many benefits. It lowers stress levels, gives you healthy energy shots (instead of that extra cup of coffee), and boosts your creativity. Any change in body posture can change your whole mindset.

We often get the question: “But how will I find the time to squeeze yoga into my work day?” The thought of sneaking out for a lunchtime yoga class may be bizarre, especially with how much we are each asked to do on the job. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay stagnant all day.

You surely receive at least one or two breaks during your day. Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee or checking your social media feeds, spend your time wisely. There are many effective yoga moves you can do right at your desk (or in the break room, or outside) that will not only give you a mental break but also ensure your back, arms, hips, and wrists remain in working order.

Yoga Poses You Can Do at Work

Seated Crescent Moon – Lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the left, taking three deep breaths. Repeat on your right side.

Why? Our side body tends to collapse when we hunch over a computer or stack of papers. This can cause neck and shoulder discomfort. This pose brings you a taller spine, clearer head, and sharper focus.

Wrist and Finger Stretches – Extend your arms to your side and draw five to ten circles inward and outward through your wrists. Then, quickly spread your fingers and close your fists, repeating five to ten times to shake off tension. Finally, stretch one arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, using your other hand for a counterstretch.

Why? Desk work causes a buildup of tension in the muscles of your fingers, hands, and wrists. You need some extra blood flow in these areas, typically every two hours.

Chair Pigeon – While seated in your chair with both feet planted on the ground, cross your right leg over your left at a 90-degree angle (creating the figure 4). Keep your foot flexed and ankle joint strong. Maintain an equal weight distribution between your sitting bones, while keeping your back straight. Take the right hand and press it into your inner knee/thigh to open your hip a little more while also helping you to extend up through your spine. Hold for 10-15 breaths before switching sides.

Why? When we cross our legs, especially one side more than the other, we create an imbalance in the hips and lower spine. This pose helps even things out.

Neck Roll – Close your eyes, letting your chin drop to your chest. Move your head slowly in a circle while keeping your shoulders loose and relaxed.

Why? At work, we often fix our gaze for minutes or hours at a time at one point. And often our computers are below eye-level, causing our necks to experience unnecessary tension. This pose helps us stretch and remember to move more often.

Breath Work (Pranayama) – At your desk you can practice breathing exercises throughout your day especially during points of high stress. Drape your eyes closed and begin to relax your body and mind while keeping your spine extended up right. Notice your natural breathing first drawing in and out of your nose. Watching a few organic breaths mindfully will zip you into the present moment. Then when ready, begin to deepen your breath, count to a beat of 5 for the inhale and a beat of 5 for the exhale. With practice you may be able to work up to a beat of 8 for both inhale and exhale. Repeat 10 times. Voila, you have relieved some much needed tension by simply slowing down your breath, having a one-pointed focus, and clearing your mind of clutter.

So the next time you feel stressed, overworked, or brain-dead, spend five minutes practicing a few of these yoga techniques. We guarantee you’ll find yourself feeling refreshed. And your bosses will appreciate the added productivity of this new form of workday self-care.

If you’re looking to bring yoga classes into your workplace with a qualified instructor, Yoga Fever offers Corporate Yoga. Our team travels to you either on your lunch break, before or after work. Whatever is convenient, we can make it work. Call the studio for pricing or email us at info@www.yogafevergr.com