Self-discipline seems to be such as buzz word at the moment.
But what is it?
And how can yoga can help you get more of it?
I’ll walk you through these in this article, and hopefully encourage you to give yoga a go!
What is self-discipline?
Self-discipline is described as the ability to control one’s feelings, and overcome one’s weaknesses.
Self-discipline is the act of doing things we know will benefit us, even when we don’t want to do it. This might be things like meditating, the gym, studying or sports.
Self-discipline focuses on dismissing short term desires (I want to watch TV), in order to prioritise long term visions and goals (I want to get an A). And focuses on delayed gratification rather than short term happiness.
Bearing this in mind, self-discipline can be seen as integral for success – and not just academic or corporate success – success in all areas of life.
If we look at the different areas of life, whether it be physical health, mental health or skill-building, we know that in order to get to our goals, we have to sacrifice some short term gratification, and do things we don’t always want to do.
This could be sitting down to study rather than watching TV, or going to the gym after a hard day at work. Whatever it is, self-discipline helps us to get closer to where we would like to be vs. where we are now.
Make self-discipline your friend
So we know that having self-discipline is a good thing, but where does yoga come in?
Yoga can help us to have a positive outlook on self-discipline. We all know that yoga is good for us – physically and mentally – but sometimes we just don’t want to do it. Sometimes we would rather stay in our cosy bed than get up and do a yoga practice.
Yoga and self-discipline go hand-in-hand. But unlike the gym or other sports, yoga takes a loving and compassionate approach to self-discipline. Yoga does not focus on using self-discipline to punish the body.
Self-discipline within yoga is about the willingness to do the work and the desire to learn. I feel like this really takes the pressure off any expectations you have when starting a yoga practice.
It is not about being more flexible, or more relaxed, or more physically fit (although they will all come as you begin to practice yoga), it is simply about showing up as your best, and putting the work in.
And the more you begin to do the things you don’t want to do, the easier it gets to do this.
As you also begin to see results, this will act as positive reinforcement for your mind, making it easier to get up and do the things that bring your closer to your goal.
This is what self-discipline is really about. It is about taking action in alignment with your goals, rather than your short term feelings and thoughts.
Cultivating self-discipline with yoga
I believe that the commitment to practice yoga even once a week is a form of self-discipline. So, if you’ve got that down, then well done!
However, if you want to take things up a notch, there are some more challenging poses to try within your practice, which will really test you motivation and commitment to self-discipline.
When these poses begin to get difficult, your mind will begin to chatter. Your mind may tell you that there is no point to this, that you should come out of the pose and stop. Don’t listen to this chatter and keep your goal in mind.
Here are some more challenging yoga poses you could try:
1. Lord of the dance pose
2. King pigeon pose
3. Lotus pose
These poses do require some quite advanced yoga skill. If you are still fairly new to yoga (like me) then you can of course begin to incorporate more self-discipline into your practice by pushing yourself a little further than you usually would:
You can start by pushing yourself a little more in these poses:
1. Lizard pose
2. Cobra pose
3. Warrior 1 and warrior 2
These poses should be fairly easy to grasp regardless of your skill level. To take each pose a bit further, take a long inhale and as you begin to exhale, stretch a little further. Keep doing this, and see just how far you can get – you might surprise yourself!
The challenge really begins when you try to hold the pose for a few minutes. This is where your mind will begin to test you – it will tell you to come out of the poses, and stop what you are doing.
Self-discipline is the process of not listening and acting on this voice.
Sometimes these concepts can sound overwhelming, and you may feel pressure on yourself to push yourself to be your best. This is great, as it means your motivated.
But don’t beat yourself up, and make it easy for yourself to begin with. This ensures that it feels manageable and not too much of a challenge.
You could begin by starting a daily 10 minute yoga practice. There are so many videos on the internet and Youtube to help you get started, and all you need is a yoga mat. Or, even just a towel to stand on if you don’t have a mat yet.
And don’t be too hard on yourself – this will not be a linear process.
You can do it!
Like anything that is worth having, cultivating more self-discipline is difficult to begin with. But it will get easier, and you are worth giving it a go!
More self-discipline puts you in greater control of your moods, thoughts and ultimately life. I hope that a greater sense of control can lead to a more intentional and meaningful life.
Let me know how it goes – and let me know if you have any tips!
All the best