17 Things I Learned By Doing 108 Sun Salutations That Apply to Going After Any Big Goal

kate - sun salutationsNew Year’s Day is one of my favorite holidays—I love that turn-the-page, clean-slate feeling. And doing 108 sun salutations is considered to be a powerful practice to clean out old energy and welcome in the new. So the first thing I did when I rolled out of bed on New Year’s Day was hit the bathroom. The second thing I did was 108 sun salutes. I didn’t even change out of my jammies, because I had a feeling that if started puttering around, I might not get started.

During the 90 minutes I was reaching up and swan diving and stepping back into downward dog, I realized that doing 108 sun salutations is a lot like going after any big goal, whether it’s paying off debt or finding a new job or starting a business. The practice gave me a lot of insights—17 of them, in fact. I’m sharing them here with the hope that they’ll be useful to you as you’re thinking about what you want to go after this year.

  1. Getting started is exciting. Those first few steps are all fun—kind of like buying the new pencils and notebooks before the school year starts.
  2. Once you’re past the beginning but not yet half-way is the hardest part. Because 22 feels very far away from 108, and you’re already kinda tired by that point.
  3. Until you’re at least half-way, your ego will be telling you it’s no use, you’ll never get there, maybe you should just quit and go lie on the couch.
  4. The only way to get through is to keep going.
  5. Sometimes all you can do is take it one breath at a time. If you stay focused on how far you are from finishing, or how tired you are, you’ll stop. If you think about breathing in, you won’t have to think about freaking out.
  6. It’s hard to stay focused. Your mind will wander.
  7. Keeping tabs on where you on the process—making a chart of how many resumes you’ve sent out or potential dates you’ve chatted with or number of dollars you’ve reduced your debt will inspire you to keep going. Repeating what number I was on with each breath was the only way I could remember where I was in the process, which also helped me focus.
  8. Doing something that’s important to you even after it stops being fun and starts feeling hard is purifying. It burns through resistance. It’s not necessarily fun while it’s happening, but feeling the absence of that resistance after you’re done is pretty great.
  9. You can mix up the actual things you do to get closer to your goal (I did a lot of different kinds of sun salutes of a lot of different levels of complexity) so long as you stick to the basic form. There is no one right way.
  10. When you want to quit, the most loving thing you can do is surrender—meaning, drop the narrative about how much you want to quit and just keep going.
  11. Distractions are not helpful (like a dog lying on your yoga mat, or a kid), but if you pay them just as much attention as they need and keep going, those distractions will lose interest in you and move along.
  12. Doing something big and important first thing in the morning insures that you actually do it. It also minimizes the time when you’re avoiding or dreading doing the big thing.
  13. Going after a big goal will stretch you. (My hamstrings are still sore, three days later.)
  14. It will also make you stronger.
  15. It feels REALLY great to finish.
  16. You will be a different person when you finish.
  17. After you’ve finished, you’ve got to give yourself time to rest and process and let the change you’ve just created percolate into your cells.

Whatever you decide to go for in 2017, you’ve got this!

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