We all have those things that we love to do (walking the dog, eating a good meal with friends). And, of course, those things that require more energy and motivation (sticking to a workout or a diet, apologizing to someone we hurt). It’s all too easy to prioritize what we enjoy and make excuses for why we can’t do what we believe will be really painful in the moment. We tell ourselves things like, “I don’t really need to start my diet today” or “I don’t need to say I’m sorry right now; I’ll do it later.” When it feels like sticking to your promises and goals is becoming harder and harder, remember the teachings of tapas and know that you have the power to stay the course. Let’s look at a few ways you can increase your self-discipline in your life goals, work, relationships, exercise, and diet.
How Tapas Helps with Self-Discipline
Tapas is one of the Niyamas, which are moral codes or social contracts that we should adopt to internalize positivity and to take that positivity out into the world. Tapas is the burning away of negativity or impurities in our lives. It is at the core of discipline. We won’t be motivated to do what’s good for us if we don’t have a burning enthusiasm or desire deep within us. Achieving this enthusiasm takes practice and experimentation. Find what you enjoy and what will help you stick to the exercise routine, diet, or behavior you want to develop. Tapas will cultivate inside you a sense of self-discipline — a fiery passion to care for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being and to reach your true, authentic self.
3 Ways to Grow in Self-Discipline
If you’re ready to stop making excuses for why you avoid the hard stuff, you can take steps towards increasing your self-discipline. With several ways to develop discipline, you’ll bring a centeredness to your life. Remember, discipline does not mean pushing yourself harder and longer. It simply means taking time and energy to do what you can to attend to your physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s okay to take it easy once in a while. Sometimes, simply doing 10 minutes of yoga or journaling only one sentence is all your body and mind needs (and can handle) that day. Listen to your body, mind, and spirit. With that said, let’s get into a few ways you can grow your self-discipline!
Whether it’s a 10-, 30-, or 60-minute session, the simple act of practicing yoga can increase your self-discipline. With its physical and mental benefits, any amount of time on the mat is good for you. We may all know this, but sometimes it’s still really hard to get on the mat. This isn’t unlike a lot of things in our lives (healthy diets, for example). But when things get tough, it’s not time to quit; we have to keep pushing forward.
Tapas is an inner wisdom that sprouts inside of you the more you do something that is good for you but isn’t always easy, like yoga. This wisdom reminds you why you need to step on the mat even though the sun isn’t up yet or even though you had a bad day at work. Tapas burns away these negative thoughts and feelings and instead encourages positive behavior (such as going to bed earlier so you can practice yoga in the morning).
By practicing discipline in one small aspect of your life (yoga), you will be able to carry self-discipline into other areas of your life. Tapas will help you want to make better choices, even when it’s hard. Just as you push through (or “burn” away) thoughts that tell you a certain pose is impossible or you’re not good enough on the mat, you can learn to reframe negative thoughts in your everyday life into positive statements (such as “I may not have gotten this job but that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough. It wasn’t the right time and if I keep trying an even better job will come around.”). The inner strength you develop in yoga when you face challenges head-on will follow you everywhere you go in life. Sign up for Health Yoga Life’s yoga classes here.
If you’re wanting to establish a new habit, start small. It can be all too overwhelming to tackle huge practices or projects at once. Break the task or goal into small steps. Plan to eat a vegetable at dinner every weekday until it becomes second nature. Do just 15 or 30 minutes of yoga. Watch only 40 minutes of your favorite show before turning it off and picking up a book instead. Over time, the practice of breaking tasks and goals into smaller pieces will help you garner more self-discipline.
Be Mindful of the Urge to Flee Hardships
Doing anything new or uncomfortable makes us want to run the other way. However, embracing the discomfort of the things that are painful at first but are good for us in the end (does this sound like power yoga to anyone else?) will increase your self-discipline. You’ll know that, while it’s uncomfortable right now, you’ll be better for sticking it out. Be mindful of these urges to run away and recognize that you don’t have to listen to them.
By cultivating Tapas, practicing yoga, setting small goals, and being mindful of your impulses, you’ll be on your way to increasing your self-discipline. We all have an affinity for one thing or another. Find yours and pursue it whole-heartedly. You can’t be disciplined if you don’t feel motivated to do what you need to do.