Yoga and Discipline

Whether you can’t get round to going to your first yoga class or struggling to figure out how to practice yoga daily, the psychological technique called “implementation intention” will help you get closer to your goals.

We all know people who seem disciplined by nature. They achieve whatever goals they set for themselves, they seem to complete every item on their to-do list, and they are hardly ever late.  For others, procrastination seems to be second nature. Even important goals like going to a doctor can be put off again and again. If this is your case, you can do with some useful psychological techniques. One of them is called implementation intention.

So what exactly is implementation intention?

The implementation intention is a method that helps you achieve your goals more successfully by rephrasing your goals as if-then statements or by specifying when, where, and how you are going to do the desired activity or take the steps leading to your goal.

When we are forming if-then statements, “if” is followed by the situation, and “then” is followed by the desired behavior.
For example, let’s say you want to start going to bed earlier, you can form a statement like. “If it’s 10 p.m. I’ll close my laptop, put away my phone, dim the lights in the room and get myself ready for going to bed”.

Specifying when, where, and how you are going to achieve your goals turns vague goals into specific ones.

Example: “I want to do yoga every day” is a vague goal. “I will do 6 rounds of Sun Salutations right after waking up starting tomorrow” is a specific goal.

Numerous experiments proved that “implementation intention” really works. For example, two groups of women wanted to perform breast self-examination by the end of the month. All women in the group who were also asked to decide exactly when and where they will perform the self-examination actually did it against 53% in the group who were not induced to make the implementation intention.

The effectiveness of the implementation intention has been proved in many experiments that among others included people wanting to lose weight or students who needed to write an essay. Normally, people who are asked to formulate an implementation intention are 2 or even 3 times more successful in acting on their goals than those who don’t.

See, maybe not so many of New Year’s resolutions would fail, if we specified when (at least in which month) and how we will be acting on them!

Bonus technique for self-discipline

If you are looking for more psychological techniques to improve your self-discipline, here is a good one. It’s called “commitment device”. It’s a method of getting yourself into a situation where you are forced to perform activities that you otherwise wouldn’t feel like doing but that will bring the desired result in the long term.

You are very likely to have used this technique. For example, deleting games from your smartphone may help you spend less time playing games. Or not buying chocolates and cookies and not keeping them at home helps cut down on sugar.

Buying a monthly membership to a yoga studio can be a good commitment device technique if you want to do yoga more regularly.

Now whenever a really great idea comes to your mind, instead of dreaming about it, schedule implementing it and create an atmosphere where giving up is not an option. Use this to become disciplined in yoga and in other spheres of your life!


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