Burnout and Stress, Health, Personal Wisdom, Writing, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 60

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 60

I woke up last Saturday with a full list full of things to do.  Yoga and Writing were not on that list.

They called me powerfully, however.  The house was quiet, no one else was home or awake. It was morning. All these have become my Cues. They tell me that it is definitely time for yoga and writing. The next thing that is supposed to happen is a behaviour loop – I do my yoga and writing, and the Reward is that I feel much better.

That is how habits are formed. That is what I was looking to do! Cue, Behaviour, Reward. Do it often enough and TaDa! – a habit is formed. I have been delving into the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business is a book by Charles Duhigg. It is a powerful book that I am thoroughly enjoying.  It explains many of the essentials of why we have habits, how they are formed, and how we can change them.  The sections on organizations and cultures are even more interesting than those on individuals!

In The Art of Joyful Living, Swami Rama says that we do not teach people how to Un-Learn things – and we should!  I would agree with him. While we are told to break our bad habits, and told to make new habits, no one is teaching us how, or explaining why it is so darned hard. There is actually science behind it; from modern western science, and way back to ancient yogic traditions, among others. This stuff is teachable. Since it is also learn-able – I am trying to learn it. It was part of the point of this challenge. Can I make didactic learning work for me in real life?

I would say my reactions to a day that I was not ‘supposed to do yoga,’  indicates the Challenge has been a success!  I can hardly stand to have a ‘free’ day, without Yoga and Writing.

I have been so grateful for this challenge!

by Tama Cathers, sometimes yogi, sometimes writer, always an investigator.


photo credit – shutter stock








Burnout and Stress, Health, Personal Wisdom, Writing, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 28

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 28

 Here we are at the end of the first of two months of yoga and writing. I can tell you first off, that I am ever so grateful that I set the challenge up for 2 months. One month is clearly not enough.

A challenge is definitely a correct term. Every day, I have had to corral myself to do the most important things first – yoga and writing. I’ve witnessed in myself the tendency to go off track, over and over again. Gently and compassionately, I bring myself back on track saying, “Nope, you have to do your work first.” Because of this attitude, I have been much more efficient throughout my days. By forcing myself to do the things I have to do first, my attitude remains one that is focused on getting the essentials done.

We all likely know the adage ‘Do the Important Things First,’ but like me, we slide off that path. Bringing ourselves back takes work, but it pays off.  I feel proud each day about what I have done. I feel trust in myself, that I can fulfill my promises to myself.

Many times, we fail ourselves over and over. That results in losing that belief in ourselves. It is easy to come to not trust yourself. Choosing a difficult, but doable, task, and then succeed, helps renew that faith in ourselves.

I engage this challenge only on the days I don’t work outside the home. That means the days available are sometimes quite limited. However, I have only missed two days; one – for tax preparation, and one this week due to being in a work funk:

I missed yesterday. I decided that preparing a budget, and shopping for hiking gear for our Appalachian trial hike next week, took precedent over writing and yoga.  I spent most of the day at my computer. I felt restless. I was poorly attentive. Sometimes I was anxious and uncomfortable in my body. All day I plugged away at crunching numbers, then later, presenting them poorly. All day I was feeling – not great

I now know that these tasks did not deserve precedent. Clearly skipping my commitment was a mistake. It was not a devastating mistake, but regardless, it made it clear that nothing takes precedent over the thing that has precedent.


Today, I got up and went down to do my practice. The week had been full of work, so it was my first day on the mat all week. I found that today was the first day that I was disappointed my time was up, and I had to leave the mat. Like a cool science experiment, I wasn’t ready for ‘my lab’ to end.

It felt GREAT! I had missed it so much!

This is what I have been looking for; the day I feel something is out of alignment when I don’t do my practice. That is how you know you are starting to form a habit.  I recently read that it takes 28 – 256 days to form a habit, I only need to go another 3 to 230 days for it to be set. Yay!

What have been the other challenges and benefits? First, I have found resources within me. Without a teacher leading me, I have found my own practices. This has been particularly rich.

One day, I decided to do all the sun salutations I had easy access to. There are about 5-6 in my folder. For each one, the first time I looked at it and did it, I thought “well – this is stupid!” the next time, I wobbled through the salutation, while realizing there was some point or value to this particular exercise. The next several times, I let go and dove into the lesson in the practice. Not only did I have a great work out, but I got to see the pattern of my own resistance. I could note how it played out every time – even when I was aware of it!!! Fascinating. Really!

Next, I was left to form my own yogic rest and meditation. I had a very old memory of being lead through a meditation where I felt my brain.  In my shivasana/yoga rest, I felt through the parts of my brain, finishing with sending energy through my crown chakra. Afterwards, I walked around for two days feeling like I had a crown of light radiating from my skull. It was slightly weird, and a little embarrassing, but fortunately no one else could see me glowing!  I ended up making a new guided meditation, which I have used several times since then.

Additionally, I found I can acknowledge that I am too tired to lead myself, and can elect to use videos to substitute for an outside teacher. They are also helpful to review the finer points of techniques, or wording. Altogether, I am able to follow my curiousity and learn so much more.

As far as writing -I have written 8 blog articles, 4 meditations, 3 stories, 2 poems, in addition to journaling, and -hey! -getting our taxes done!

I have been studying how we form habits, how we break old ones, and this challenge has supported my studies, and vice versa. We are our own laboratories, just waiting for our curiosity! It’s well worth going inside to play!


by Tama Cathers

Photo Credit: Myriams-Fotos Pixabay

Burnout and Stress, Health, Personal Wisdom, Writing, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 5

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 5

Since starting this program, I have felt incredibly productive.

I have also struggled with the challenge, and worked to sabotage my own efforts. I will call any sabotaging of my efforts to form these new habits “My Saboteur.”

I felt so productive the first day, that I stayed up – late. I was up until 2:30 a.m. working on a must-do project, then several add-on projects.

I woke up after 5.5 hours sleep, and wondering how I was going to get through the day? I don’t work well on less than 7 hours of sleep. I am usually functional for as long as I slept. I should have had only 5.5 hours of productivity.

During this second day, I focused on doing what I promised to do, and then what needed to be done. At the end of the day, I hadn’t run out of energy. That was quite odd. So…. I stayed up until 12 a.m.! Gar!

The third night, my husband stepped in, reminding me to go to bed, at about 10 pm. However, I kept chatting, saying I really did not feel tired. I was amazed at the energy I had! When I did hit the sack, it was difficult to sleep.

The next morning, the fourth day, I could barely drag myself out of bed. I got my duties done, including my yoga and writing, but then I fell apart, including a long nap.

Today is the fifth day. I am still logy, but not as bad as yesterday.  I am able to move through my morning, with focused concentration.

What interesting stuff is going on! I can clearly see the work of the My Saboteur here.  It tries every avenue to divert me from these two simple tasks!

I realized that if I were truly treating this challenge as important, say as important as a job, then I would have behaved very differently. As I pondered this choice, and pointed my finger at My Saboteur, I found it interesting that the goal to stop this life change (yoga and writing) showed up so quickly, and so hugely.

Now, my tactics have to change, in response to the situation.  This will be quite an interesting challenge!

by Tama Cathers


Photo Credit: 412d5bfeac8b2dd17343fa56c9762ed0–dark-magic-fantasy-magic-dark.jpg





Writing, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 3

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 3

Today, I followed my TriYoga Video. I did not want to think. I wanted to be guided. This goes along with the two books our household is immersed in: Essentialism (Greg McKeown), and Bright Line Eating (Peirce). Both books clearly outlay how having too many choices is problematic.

Essentialism draws attention to the overwhelming insult on our choice making centers, and the need to eliminate the non-essential items from our lives, so that we have more time to invest in what is most important to us.

Part of our discussion around Essentialism, was about what IS most important for our lives. For this I will refer you to a 3rd book, with great exercises to illuminate you on your most important items: Becoming an Resonant Leader Workbook, (McKee, Boyatiz, Johnston). Having done that work, and feeling pretty clear about what is important to me, I was drawn to an obvious problem in my life. While I am saying that Yoga/Fitness and Writing are most important in my life, right after Family, I am not engaging in them as a regular practice. That is how we developed the challenge we did, for this month. It is clear, however, that having fewer choices is beneficial – and I want to be the one making the choices. If I don’t make the choices about my life, other people/events do.

Bright Line Eating is clear about the psychology and physiology of choice making. Being a biologist, I love that. I am more motivated when I understand the why of something, rather than just being told what I should/should not do.

Today, however, I just wanted to be told what to do. That was my way of simplifying my choices.

Eliminating choices; that is hard.

Sticking to a plan of action; that is even harder.

Bright Line Eating talks about eliminating choices as well. It is one step on the pathway to automatizing healthy habits. I am all for that.

Based on this, I have decided to expand my commitment, from 4 weeks of Yoga and Writing to 8 weeks. I am curious to see if this will become more automatic, and what revelations I have by routinely doing the things that are most important to me, and doing them first. I can tell this will be a challenge, worthy of trying, a challenge worthy of me.


by Tama Cathers

Photo Credit: iced soap bubble 1958650_1920 rihaij@yahoo.com

Burnout and Stress, Health, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 2

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing, Day 2

Today, while I was doing my yoga practice, I was writing yoga lessons as well. It’s not a bad way to write lessons.  However, it is not a good way to practice yoga.

In our busy fast-paced world, I am used to multi-tasking. All the time. Everywhere. This type of yoga practice suits that model; getting two things done at a time. However, it is my deep belief that we all need real down time. Not only that, but the purpose of yoga is to slow and still the mind and body. How can I really do that while jotting down notes, thinking of cues to say, or ‘breathing slowly-really quickly,’ so I can move on to the next pose? I can’t!

What I really want and need are those times of bygone days, where I had the slack time to do nothing, even stop thinking. Just sit on the porch and hear the wind, birds, or watch the steam rise from the cup. These are the breaks we need. Yoga is a way of feeling like we are actively doing something, yet giving ourselves that important time to ‘do nothing.’ We give ourselves permission to ‘do nothing’ by doing ‘something.’


In my reading yesterday, I was reminded of how willpower works. We have about 15 minutes of decision making before needing substantial recharging; that is all decision, they all tax our willpower store. Delete the email, respond now, save it for later. Eat the donut now, or get an apple. Finish typing or take a break and go to the water cooler and bathroom. You can see how checking 30 emails might use up or whole store in one sitting. Then you go to the water cooler AND eat the donut.

I was also reminded about how having firm plans help us conserve our willpower. I am struggling to make that plan to accommodate my goals of writing 1 hours and yoga / exercise 2 hours. I know I can’t do it without a frame work. This is how decisions and habits can help and guide us. This is why we make clear agreements. This is why we schedule. This is why we do the important things first.

Without some framework, this is also why we fail to put the most important things first. Why we are exhausted, taxed, and have just enough poor self control to eat those donuts. God! I don’t even like donuts! But after a day full – i.e. full of decision – I might eat one any way.

by Tama Cathers

Personal Wisdom, Writing, Yoga

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing 

This Month’s Challenge: Yoga Practice & Writing 

Every month seems to present itself with a new topic or challenge. We had the Travel All over The World Month, the Marriage and Family Month, the Marriage Crisis Month, and recently, the Gender Role Switching Month.

This month the challenge proposed to me by my husband was to “do as I say – put the first things first.” I have been talking about how staying fit and flexible is a priority in my life. When I look at it critically, I don’t make it a priority. I also was reviewing my endeavors for new work options, and how much I enjoy writing. In the face of that, he challenged me to do 2 hours of yoga practice and/or exercise and 1 hour of writing – a day, at least 5 days a week, or every day I don’t do paid non-yoga/meditation work. That seemed reasonable, so I agreed.

My first day, however, I faced the challenge of the practicality of actually doing such things. 3 Hours! THREE HOURS! Where the heck was I supposed to find these three hours? It’s not like I sit around – EVER! I am moving non-stop all day, doing some sort of work. Heck, the only free time I get is while driving, so I use that to make business and family phone calls, and do my reading by audio book. I was in a crisis!

I know about the Jar Of Life, the concept of putting the important things first. I love the videos that show just how this works. I am a believer in the concepts. This is the philosophy I teach my daughter, when counseling her on homework vs. pleasure decisions. Do what has to be done first. Do the most important things first. (Sometimes this has to be followed by the lesson: sometimes it’s just time to stop, even if you aren’t done!)

The practice, however, that is quite a bit more difficult. (My fingers accidentally typed important, and I don’t disagree with that either.)

So, here I am, trying to do as I say. I will let you know how that goes.


by Tama Cathers


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_N_uvq41Pg – elegant 8 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmV0gXpXwDU – short 3 minutes

Health, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

Knees to chest

Knees to chest

The Earth Series of my Triyoga practice involved a lot of lying on your back and you pull your knees.

This. Is. Torture.


Apparently people like this.

To me, that’s like saying somebody enjoys being put on the rack!

– It’s horrible and awful!


There’s no natural curve left in my back. when on your back, the idea is to maintain a natural curve, so that if there was a small caterpillar under the small of your back, you wouldn’t squish it and it would wiggle away. My Caterpillar’s would be snatched. Flat.

Knees to chest, for me takes all the curve out of my back. It’s draining, and hurts, and is just awful. I think I mentioned that. This likely means there is a lot of emotion tied up in this move. So – now I have unpacked, shyness, embarrassment, weakness, and now our favorite – some deep shame.

Interestingly enough it’s awful for my mother as well. My teacher helped by introducing me to another of her Yoga students, who also hates this pose!  All three of us,  find child uncomfortable, in addition. It least I have some company!

The suggestion was that I  inheritage this body tension from my mother, as we share similar body types.  The other suggestion was that by fixing my body tightness, I could help her …..and I can help my daughter.  I don’t know that it’s true, but certainly something’s going on! Even if it is only the way we sit and are active.

I’m sure this is related to my difficulty with Bridge Roll 2. They all focus on my sacral area and lower lumbar spine. I understand that I’ll be able to work through this overtime. If I choose to.

I suspect I will choose to. I like the idea of healing myself. I also like the idea of healing my lineage. Is that possible? I don’t know. But I will give it a try.


by Tama Cathers,  from experiences July 2017