I love it when people tell me yoga stories. It’s like sharing a cup of tea or a good dessert. One of my favorite stories was shared by an active insurance broker who attended one of our Yoga@Work classes at her client’s office.
She and her husband practice yoga but he had been very busy lately and had not gone to class for about three weeks. They had a busy weekend kayaking and biking and that night her husband woke up in agonizing pain from double Charley horses. There was not much he could do. In the morning he realized it was probably the yoga classes he had been missing.
The Second Mistake
Practicing yoga is like that. We begin to have a regular practice start feeling good. It’s nice. Then we miss one class and think “What’s one class?” Then we miss another, and another.
Habits are behaviors that we repeat consistently. However, they are not behaviors that we repeat perfectly. This small idea—that consistency does not require perfection—is important.
When it comes to building good habits and breaking bad habits, individual mistakes do not matter in the long-run. Instead, it is the second mistake that is far more important.
— James Clear
James Clear is one of my favorite experts on habits. Clear writes about the second mistake. The first “mistake” is that we break our streak of a habit. Studies show that missing one yoga practice, eating one unhealthy meal, or making that one “mistake” will not, in the long run, have a negative impact on your progress. Clear writes,
What separates the elite performers from everyone else? Not perfection, but consistency.
This is why the most important thing is not to prevent mistakes altogether, but to avoid making a mistake twice in a row. Errors are part of the process, but they shouldn’t become part of the pattern. — James Clear
Perfection Is Not The Goal, Consistency Is
A Precision Nutrition study of over 10,000 participants over a year-long nutrition and weight loss program reported that 44% of participants were consistent 50-79% of the time and still had significant results. Increase the consistency of your practices, increase the results, but by no means do you need to be perfect.
When it comes to a yoga practice, the benefits of feeling good that my storyteller spoke of are easy to gloss over. Her husband was doing fine while he was practicing yoga. So what was it actually doing for him? The bigger question is what was it keeping away. His practice was keeping his muscles strong, his joints flexible and the Charley horses, and other assorted and inconvenient aches and pains, away.
So if you missed the yoga class at work last week or your own yoga practice at your favorite studio or at home all is not lost. How might you adjust your idea of consistency to support your ability to get back in the saddle and keep riding?
I believe in you. You’ve got this.
Photo by Jonathan Cosens Photography on Unsplash(Link)