sa tu dīrgha kāla nairantarya satkāra āsevita dṛḍha bhūmiḥ
The Yoga Sutras 1.14
Translation: Practice that is done for a long time without a break, and with sincere devotion, becomes a firmly rooted, stable, and solid foundation.
There is a theory that if you do something consistently for thirty days it will become a habit, because neurons that fire together wire together. Consistent application begins to develop positive samskaras. In Ayurveda we say, “like facilitates like and opposites bring balance.” The more often we make a choice, the more likely we are to make the same choice again. That’s good news in the world of behavior change, because every step we take makes it easier to take the next step.
My teacher, Claudia Welch, says “small changes sustained over time make a big impact.” Coby Kozlowski, author of One Degree Revolution, tells a story about a ship changing its course. Imagine if that ship’s direction was shifted just one degree. There wouldn’t be an immediate, obvious impact. But what would change over the course of a week from making just a one degree shift? Over the course of a month? Over the course of a year?
Neurochemical changes begin right around 30 days, and if we keep going, we start to see real changes. Internal, biochemical change takes about 4 – 6 months, so we need to give it time. We don’t eat the fruit the same day we plant the seed, and the seed needs tending. This is why consistent practice matters. Sutra 1.14 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, says “Practice that is done for a long time without a break, and with sincere devotion, becomes a firmly rooted, stable, and solid foundation.”
As we move into a new year, now is a good time to reflect on small steps you can take to live a life of purpose. How might a one degree shift, a small step, impact you over the course of time? What do you think would be true six months from now if you practiced a little bit every day?
Structure can facilitate change. Here are some ideas to help you commit to a regular practice:
- Buy a 1 or 2 class per week pass, or become an unlimited member.
- Sign-up for class in advance and put it in your daily schedule as if it were a meeting or appointment.
- Make a date with a friend to take a class together.
- Join the Yoga for Life program and become part of a community dedicated to deepening practice.
Written by Rachel de Simone