Old Habits Die Hard, So Kill Them with Kindness

This post is by QSY lead teacher Leslie Stokman. 

Changing my habits has been a life-long struggle.

Do I lack willpower and self-discipline, giving in too easily to procrastination? Is my struggle to blame on the symptoms of ADHD? Or is my difficulty maintaining a routine actually an issue of nervous system dysregulation? The answer might not matter too much in the end. 

If you’ve struggled like me to keep up with the new habits, even the ones you identify with great intention and enthusiasm, this post is for you.

We’re a week into the new year – it’s a loaded time. Whether you’ve been heeding messages that promote wellness-focused New Year’s resolutions, or voices that dismiss them in favour of maxims like “New Year, Same Awesome You,” the topic is definitely on our collective mind for better or worse. I admit that there is nothing magical about the year changing. 2020 is an arbitrary measure according to a calendar that was created in the 16th century by a Pope. That said, the coming of the New Year is one of the only times when our whole society acknowledges one pure moment of transition. And times of transition can be powerful opportunities for personal reflection and transformation.

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Your body and mind are not a problem to be solved

We’ve all done it. Declared a new path forward (“No more facebook, I am going to read a book instead!”) only to find ourselves, hours later, back in the habit. Scrolling, barely present, and regretting it later.

It’s not your fault. There are literally millions of dollars being poured into making smartphone apps, television shows, and sugary/salty foods addictive. It’s big business. Manipulating human habits is an enormous business.

We are a small business. We want to make space for people to connect with their bodies, examine the habits of their mind and movement, and learn to care for themselves in our overly busy world.

It’s hard to compete with big business. And we don’t really want to. We are not interested in manipulating people into yoga and meditation. We refuse to do it. Many marketing strategies suggesting that to grow your business, you need to create a problem for people, and tell them how you are going to solve it. (We recently saw a website for meditation that wanted you to click on “10 ways you are messing up your mindfulness practice”. Yuck.)

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Yoga for Your Voice?

We are excited to be hosting music therapist Sarah Pearson at Queen Street Yoga for a new workshop called Voicing Your Practice. She will be collaborating with Emma Dines to bring yoga and voice work together. In this blog post she shares about her passion for exploring the human voice, and how adding sound to our yoga practice might deepen our self-awareness and growth.

Sing by Don McCullough

Sing by Don McCullough

The voice is a universal human instrument. Almost all of us speak, and many of us sing (even if no one’s listening). Voices are also personal and emotional: like our bodies, they reflect our values and culture, our self-perceptions, and the ways we want others to perceive us. Using our voice is as mundane an activity as, say, reaching for a jar of almond butter. We do it without thinking. But our voices, like our bodies, are also shaped by habits. By bringing awareness to those habits, we can determine what habits we want to release, in order for free expression to flow through us.

What I love most about yoga (if I really had to pick!) is how it tunes me into a deeper awareness of what already is. If it wasn’t for yoga, I wouldn’t know that I happen to have relatively tight hips but really flexible shoulders, or that I tend to tighten my jaw when I go into a backbend. I wouldn’t feel the connection between my fingers and my toes when I reach for that jar of almond butter. Yoga has cultivated this awareness, and through it, habits have begun to be released, and more flow has entered my life. Continue reading