The Simple Things have the Biggest Impact

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Listen instead. Press Play! 

I'm back to school today and so excited about it. As you read this I'll be immersed in Day 1 of Module 2 of my 300-Hour Teacher Training with Jason Crandell. I learned so much from him in Module 1 that despite the full schedule, long hours and way too much time sitting on the floor for anatomy, I didn't want it to end. I'm excited to be diving in again so I can share more with all of you! Module 1 focused on the Hips + Legs. Module 2 is all about building integrity and stability in the Core + Spine. We practice what we're learning so in all honestly, I'm a little scared. Say a little prayer for my tummy muscles

It was tough to narrow down my biggest takeaway from the first training because there really were so many. If you ever have the opportunity to train with Jason, do it without hesitation. It seems a little contradictory to be saying this when the training is so in depth and Jason is known as one of the go-to guys for yoga anatomy - which we often think of as complicated - but my biggest takeaway from Module 1 and what I'm excited to explore further in the next two weeks is how the simplest parts of our practice have the biggest impact.

One might think a 300-hour training is about advanced poses, intense assists and how to get students into 'harder' expressions. But really, it's about understanding the body in a more in depth way and then applying that understanding to the practice. We spent 3 days - seriously people, 3 days - just on the feet in Module 1. There were entire 90 minute practices that only focused on rooting through the feet and how that triggers engagement in the rest of the body. Was it meticulous? Yes. Was it effective? Oh, Yes! I haven't walked away from a yoga practice that sore in a long time.

So I'm rambling a bit I know, it's the yoga nerd in me. If you're still with me, I love you and I'll get to it. The big lesson in all this, both for your practice and your life is that: 

"90% of the benefits of your yoga practice come from the simplest 10% of the practice"
- T. Krishnamacharya (we think)

Beginners, good news! The benefits of this practice aren't only available to the yogis you see on Instagram standing on their hands. The simple act of connecting to your breath, being in moment, and actually feeling what goes on in your body - and it can be as simple as how your feet root into the floor - is where the real benefits lie. The foundations have to be there long before the fancy poses make an appearance. And if one day you do discover the joy of balancing on your hands, you'll probably also realize that you're no more 'enlightened' than you are when you just hold a forward fold. 

The simple actions that you barely even see bring more benefits than the fancy poses you see all over social media.

The simplest looking practice to the external eye can be the most advanced practice on the inside.

The most advanced looking practice to the external eye can be the most beginner practice on the inside.

I know this is going to shock you but this idea of 90% of the benefits coming from the simplest 10% doesn't just apply to your practice, it applies in a big way to your life. So let's use this concept as an opportunity to reassess whatever it is you're after in 2018 and how you're attempting to create it. 

You have this big intention, goal or resolution. Whether it's related to your practice, your body, your business or your personal life, you've decided that this is the year you're actually going to make it happen. You're motivated and inspired to be your best self. You've dropped all excuses and you've made a million changes at once. 

I want you to hang onto your enthusiasm. You're motivated and inspired to create positive change and that's something we'd never want to reassess. What I want you to reflect on is the million changes you've made at once. Are they too complicated? Often the answer is yes.

My advice? Simplify.

Think about the small habits that over time will lead to the big change that you're craving. They don't have to be flashy, and maybe others won't even notice you've implemented them.  Then pick one habit out of that list and stick to it for 30 days. After doing that one thing for 30 days straight, you check in with whether it's working. If it is, continue and add in the next habit. The idea here is sustainability. You don't want to burn yourself out with a big complicated plan involving a million changes for this year right off the bat. You want to make gradual, permanent lifestyle changes that will eventually add up to the result you're hoping to accomplish. Just like in your practice you want to work slowly and diligently on understanding the foundations that will eventually advance your poses in a peaceful way without needing to force. 

Let's use the coveted handstand as an example. A pose that most yogi's have on their 'dream' pose list probably because they see it all day, everyday on Instagram. Anyone who works inversions in their practice understands that endlessly trying to kick up into handstand against the wall is not going to help you balance in the middle of the room. It might help you get over the fear of being upside down, but all you'll ever be is upside down against the wall. In order to move away from the wall, you have to work the foundations. The simple stuff. The tiny little strengthening work in your hands, your wrists, your shoulders and your body is key to eventually sustaining a hold. I'm outing myself here as lazy because I don't do the tiny strengthening work and therefore cannot consistently hold a handstand. And I don't think that makes me any worse off than someone who does. I'll let you know when I'm making the simple, tiny strengthening exercises a priority and we'll see how I do then! 

So the question is, how are you complicating your intentions for this year and how can you simplify? Remember that making massive changes that aren't going to stick isn't necessarily the most effective pathway to what you desire. Reevaluate and refocus your energy on simple and sustainable practices that you can commit to for the next 30 days. Then commit again. 

Remember, 90% of the benefits come from the simplest 10%.
In your practice and in your life. 

This post and the 30 day commitment of new habits was also inspired by this TedTalk. It was sent to me by my Mom as she's in the middle of participating in my 31-day Meditation Challenge. I know right? Of course she is! #1 fan and I'm so grateful for her.