Everyone has a habit or two they want to change. Maybe you left biting your nails and picking your nose behind in childhood (or didn’t – no judgment here), maybe it’s your habit of scrolling social networks in every idle moment, or perhaps it’s eating or drinking things that don’t help you feel your best.
Sometimes, habits cross over into the realm of addictions. These can cause us considerable damage, or just be something simple that we feel is holding us back. Addictions can be chemical, but sometimes the social element of the habit is just as much an addiction. If you’ve ever known a smoker trying to quit, you know how true this can be.
Addictive or not, habits literally become hard wired into our brains. The more we do something, the more connections the nerve cells in our brains (called neurons) create to reinforce that behavior. But thanks to neuroplasticity – the ability for neurons to adapt and make new connections - our brains can also change and build new connections just by taking a single step towards doing something differently.
What about the habits we’re not even aware of? So often, it’s easy to cruise through our days absentmindedly, going through the motions of life rather than really paying attention. Whatever level of awareness you have about your habits, from zero where you’re blissfully unaware, to 11 where your awareness of and frustration of your habit is driving you crazy, yoga can help.
Just about any awareness practice can help you learn to put some space between your reaction and a resulting action, which is a critical skill to work on if you want to create change in your life. However, if your yoga practice offers you variety and encourages you to avoid repetition, you’ll also be learning to break habits in class as well.
Some yoga styles focus on perfecting the same series of postures in every class, which can help students become experts in those poses, but can also begin to feel like a yoga treadmill over time. The Scholé yoga itself lineage is respectfully rooted in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition of Pattabhi Jois, which, like Bikram Yoga, is also based on mastering a series of poses that grows over time with the student’s abilities. In Ashtanga, the sequence of poses offered to students expands greatly as students master various asana, but there is still a set sequence in which to begin, progress, and end each practice.
Scholé believes in keeping what works, building on it, and leaving the rest behind. Where we differ from our Ashtanga Yoga lineage is our belief that offering variety in every practice helps everyone learn how to overcome habits and flow with greater ease through the inevitable challenges of life.
It is said that you can’t step into the same river twice. Even if a Scholé guide walked in with the exact same plan and Scholé practice soundtrack, the class experience would be different. Scholé guides teach the room, not the rule, in order to best serve those coming together to practice breaking old habits and creating new ones with the support of a great community.
If you’re used to practicing a set sequence of 26 or more poses in each class, give the Scholé way a try. Even at home, just try mixing up the postures you usually do into a different order. Notice how you feel about it – you might in fact be frustrated about things being different. Push a little further, and notice if there’s any room for growth for you in that place. You might just be surprised by what you find along the way.