What Grew from 365 Days of Yoga (with My Dog), Part II: Falling Back on Habits

* Edited and reprinted with permission from the Boozy Gardener. Originally published September 2018.

First - Happy National Yoga Month (please know, no dogs were hurt in the making of that video)!

If you've never tried yoga, now is as good a time as any to give it a go. Drop-in to the studio to try a class. All of our instructors offer modifications for beginners and experienced yogis.

As you may remember, one of my New Year's Resolutions (that actually started in November) was to practice yoga every day for a year. Here we sit, 248 days into 2018, and I can say that I have done yoga NEARLY every day for a year, which is still pretty darn good. I have lost 32 pounds. Even more exciting, I lost two inches from my chest and thighs AND five inches from both my waist and hips. The Boozy Gardener is thinner and more muscular, and it rocks.

The physical changes are just one benefit, though. More important, doing yoga and meditating every day has gotten me into the HABIT of mindfulness and physical exercise.

Why are habits so important? I offer to you Exhibit A:

If you look closely, you can actually see some vegetables growing amongst the weeds.

Remember how this project began as a gardening blog? Well, this, I'm ashamed to say, is my garden. It's more important for me to be honest than to create an image of a perfect gardening guru, so here it is, the Cold. Hard. Truth.

How did I end up here? You all didn't know me a year ago because this blog didn't exist, but I can promise you, I had a perfectly tilled garden that produced gargantuan squash, many carrots, and even a few green peppers.

If you look to the right of that rabbit's rear end, you can see the side of my garden from last year. See? No weeds.

What happened to my garden is the same thing that happened to my blog until last week: stress. Here's another picture of my weedy garden. If you look closely, you will not only see vegetables, but also a metaphor for my brain:

This is your brain on stress. Any questions?

Since March, I've faced a number of life changes: some good, some bad. What they all have in common is that they increased my stress level. What you may or may not know is that, when you are extremely stressed out, you fall back on your habits.

Let's say you are someone who used to drink a glass of wine every night when you got home from work. You decided that you didn't want to drink every night and cut back to a glass or two on the weekends (of course, I'm speaking for a friend here). You've been good and haven't had a weeknight drink in months.

However, you get home from a particularly crap-tastic day at work and find yourself pouring a glass of your favorite red before the hubby can even give you a hello. What happened?

The same thing that happened to the Boozy Gardener's garden. Say it with me: stress.

Since the anxiety has piled on over the past six months, I've fallen back on two of my worst habits: workaholism and dissociation.

Some of us open up a carton of ice cream; I pick up side gigs and volunteer to work from home. When I'm not working, I shut down with Farm Heroes and Forensic Files (at least I'm weeding digitally, I guess).

I'll get into the difference between being a workaholic and happily busy in a later blog, but the important thing to know now is that enjoyable activities weren't keeping me from my weeds, unenjoyable "work" and "time wasting" was stopping me.

That's the sad part of the story, but there is a happy ending. When you look past the weeds, what do you see? Tomatoes, peppers, flowers, carrots, and some dill that needs trimmed back. Those good things are my positive habits that I was able to maintain during this stressful time because I had already established them as a part of my routine: yoga, meditation, and healthy eating.

While I still need to pull out my less desirable habits, I now have all of these great traits growing amongst the weeds.

Since my metaphor is falling apart, I'll bring this to a close. My point is this: work on establishing those positive habits, my friends, and they will see you through the tough times.

I'll be adding a book recommendation section to the blog soon, but for now, you may want to pick up Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin or Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russell Brand. Very different books but massively helpful to get you started on letting go of your bad habits and enhancing your good traits.

And, don't forget to fight your own stress with a yoga class (or three) this month.

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