In the last post I chatted all about looking inwards to find your true self. By looking towards an intangible innate inner wisdom we can step away from all that mental chatter that clouds our minds and hearts. And while yes I believe this infinite wisdom is the ultimate, sometimes it’s hard to muster up the internal motivation to pursue our life passion, our goals, our truth. Whether it be rocking out hanumanasana (yoga speak for ‘the splits’), eliminating gluten from your diet (buh-bye bagels), or simply committing to cutting back your time on Facebook (which, I digress, is a pretty significant contributor between me and santosha – ‘enlightenment’), sometimes dangling a little carrot in front of us does just the trick.
In the yoga world you hear people talk about their ego’s all the time. It’s up there with “It feels like a full moon right now” and “My chakras are SO aligned right now” as top things overheard at a yoga class. (And if you’ve been living in a hole and haven’t yet seen this– do yourself a favor and get your YogaTube on.) The aim in yoga is to develop an awareness of your ego (aka that little voice in your head that isn’t real), so that you can start reconnecting with your true self (perfection and bliss).
As Self Blossoming says: “Ego always tries to achieve something, something that is unreal; Ego is manipulative. Ego is always fearful. And Ego is very tricky. It will tell you stories, give you reasoning, make you caught up in explanations.”
Wouldn’t it be cheeky though if we could trick the ego? Pull one of it’s own sneaky tricks against it? This is so simple it’s laughable. It is The 30 Day Yoga Challenge. While yes yoga is a competition-free activity, the ego on the other hand is highly competitive. Marry the two together and you can experience the benefits of yoga WHILE satisfying the ego’s need for competition. Hmmmm are we really that smart? Is this like John Connor trying to outsmart the Terminator that he designed?
The little glittery gold star. So simple. So pretty. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of these turning up on spelling tests in our youth or being posted on the fridge for all to admire (ego ego ego). Whatever the reason, the gold star is the ultimate cheap and cheerful extrinsic motivator. And what better way to encourage a group of mature adult yogis to commit to their practice. Gold Stars. You do a class, you earn a star – and it get’s posted publicly at the studio next to your name for all to see. I can feel my ego swelling up with pride for the two stars next to my name so far (and just so that everyone’s aware, it’s day 2 of The Challenge.)
Studies show that while extrinsic motivation is great for getting people to start a new habit, it’s ultimately intrinsic motivation that keeps you repeating that pattern for the long haul. Take professional athletes for example – countless young athletes go pro and earn the big bucks (extrinsic motivation) and ultimately have their ‘love of the game’ (intrinsic motivation) destroyed by the extrin$ic payout.
The 30 Day Challenge is no different. It tempts the ego who keeps you in check with it’s competitive nature, keeping you coming back for more so that you can ‘save face’, prove that you can do it, measure yourself as stronger, fitter, or more hardcore. Whatever false beliefs the ego is feeding you, it ultimately get’s blindsided by the inner peace, awareness and self reflection yoga opens you up to. The more you practice, the more it seeps in. Until one day – (fingers crossed), the ego melts away completely, and poof… enlightenment! Speaking of which, do you think the Buddha would approve of my Facebook habit?
What are you thoughts on yoga challenges or any challenges for that matter? Add to the discussion and share your story…