I started practicing yoga when I was 16 years old. I vividly recall my first class, laying down on the hardwood floors in the sanctuary of a church on a thin yoga mat being instructed to take deep breaths. Flowing through movements with my inhale and my exhale. Holding awkward posses while standing in a straddle.
I found peace and calm in my yoga practice that was otherwise missing from the chaos of being a teen. And I continued taking classes throughout college, becoming familiar enough that I could move through a yoga sequence on my own.
Fast forward 26 years later and I still take yoga classes. Why? Why would I bother learning something I "already know" and can easily do myself?
The answer is I benefit greatly from continuing to take yoga classes four reasons.
First, I deeply value being guided in my practice by someone else. Sure, I can practice myself, but than I have to think about what I'm doing. When I'm in a class I don't have to think about what pose to do next or consider how long I'm going to hold it. Having a guide enables me to be present with my body and my practice in a way I can't be when I'm doing yoga on my own at home.
Second, classes enable me to learn new cues so I have better alignment. There are many subtleties to the practice that I miss out on when doing it myself. When I'm in a class a teacher will cue me to position my body for different poses with a precision I can incorporate into my home practice. This enables me to be safer while also getting greater benefits from yoga.
Third, when I take a class I get to be in community with other people. I not only learn from the instructor, I connect with and gain valuable insights from other participants. In fact, I have intentionally chosen a yoga studio that allows space for us attendees to share because I value the power of relational learning.
And fourth, in class I'm always encouraged to listen to and trust myself. While the teacher might guide our poses and I don't have to think, I'm given permission to listen to and give my body what it needs. This combination, being expertly led while also being encouraged to lead myself is a rare and exceptional gift.
The majority of programs I've encountered over the years are over the top prescriptive. And I've found that following the formula only gets me so far because what might work great for one person doesn't necessarily fit me.
I don't need someone to tell me what to do, although sometimes I think things would be easier if I left some decisions up to another.
What I need more of is experienced support, compassionate encouragement and a safe place to experiment with listening to and trusting myself.
I get that in yoga, so I continue to take yoga classes.
Ten years ago next month I hosted my very first Annual Planning Workshop. I've had participants join me there year after year. They could just use the system I teach on their own but they keep coming back for the very same reasons I continue to take yoga classes.
They value being guided in the process so their focus is solely on doing the work rather than thinking about how to do the work. They deepen in their own practice of planning by following my cues. They enjoy the camaraderie of the community we keep. And they appreciate the very first rule of the workshop - journalers choice.
You see, the Annual Planning Workshop isn't just about setting a plan for the year. It's about establishing the habits that enable you to turn a plan into reality. Above and beyond that, it's not about doing more, but about being more aligned and true to you.
It's one thing to set an audacious goal. It's another to take steps to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
There's a lot of reasons why people don't meet the goals (or new years resolutions) they set for themselves. But the crux of the matter usually comes down to alignment, or really the lack thereof.
I'm a firm believer that there isn't one right or wrong way to planning or goal setting. There's the best way for you. And when we try to follow what worked for someone else, we tend to neglect our own needs. When that happens, we don't prosper, even if we achieve the goal.
Like yoga, planning is a skill one may continue to refine.
When I was a novice yogi, I wanted to be like everyone else so I did posses that hurt my body. Now I know that because of a chronic next injury there are a handful of posses I'm better off not doing.
What would be possible if you had both the guidance and freedom to craft a plan for 2024 that not only inspired you but made you feel whole and complete? If your curious to find out, checkout the 2024 Annual Planning Workshop with me.