The New Normal
Creating a ‘happy hour’ yoga habit. By Kat Farrants
I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning and absorbing all the lessons which I learnt during lockdown. It gave me a new relationship with time, and a whole new way of reflecting upon my daily habits. Habits are, after all, the cornerstone of our lives; they are the daily things which create the entire shape of our lives. To quote philosopher Aristotle: “Excellence is what we repeatedly do.” It’s the act of repetition, it’s the daily, small acts which actually create our life. It’s funny because we often think that the important things in life are the big one-off events: it’s the ‘once in a lifetime’ trip, or the big wedding, or the ‘best day of our life’. But actually, it’s the ‘thousands of times in our lifetime’, not the ‘once in our life’ that make us who we are. It is these times that really form and shape our experience of living. If we’re looking to reach a goal, that goal isn’t achieved based on a ‘once in a lifetime’ — it’s the daily habits that will make it happen.
One other thing that has been important to me has been the realisation that it’s not the time we spend living for the next big event, it’s actually living each day, each moment, in as conscious and as aligned way as possible
There are some key times in each day when we have the opportunity to re-evaluate, to come at the day, to come at life, fresh. One of those key moments is first thing in the morning. It’s an amazing time to practice, before the day has begun and the opportunity to re-create our world is brand new. Later on, last thing at night is, for me, a wonderful time for putting the day to bed, to let go of all that has happened in the day so that I can effectively start afresh the next day. But there is, for me, one really key time that I’ve found to be absolutely essential in re-framing time. And that is the ‘happy hour’. Here in the UK we have the concept of a ‘happy hour’ to help us to unwind from the frenetic activity of the day and to relax into the evening.
Happy hour is a tricky one for many of us. It is when we ‘clock off’; it is literally a ‘checking out’ of our daily grind. When I was a lawyer in my earlier career I often didn’t finish work until late, and when I did, I was so frazzled that I thought a drink would be the best way to decompress. When I did finish work early, a drink was the perfect thing to start my free time.
There’s something special in the happy hour concept though. It’s all about an ‘inbetween’ time. When you don’t feel you’ve truly arrived, or left. When you’ve still got thoughts of your day hanging round you. That’s why a drink seems like such a good option. To get rid of the endless thoughts, the to-do lists.
But in these liminal moments — when we’re neither in one place or another — that’s the very best time to practice, to roll out our mats at home. It gets us out of our heads and right into our bodies, which is where our own truth, our own freedom can be found.
Awareness and repetition
But how to do it? How to change perhaps the habit of a lifetime and create that wonderful happy hour from a time in which you might be feeling, well, simply numb? First of all, it’s developing an awareness that it is the small habits that can really change us all. We don’t need to do big things, just the small things — but repeatedly. And that is what can make all the difference. For me, how I did it, as a then achievement-focused Type A personality, was the setting of a goal of standing on my hands. So every day I got home from my city job and instead of reaching for a drink and slumping on the sofa, I went to the wall to stand on my hands. I felt energised. I felt empowered. I felt, well, zesty and like anything was possible, and that feeling really changed how the rest of the evening went. Instead of descending into a numb slump on the sofa. It really woke me up. And with that new, energised, zesty self, I was more likely to be creative, do interesting things, and well, live the conscious life which I’d been hankering after.
But this story is not about when I was a keen hand-stander in my 20’s. It’s now two decades later. Now, I practice my daily yoga to nourish and support me. It energises me, gives me a full bodied ‘hell yeah’ feeling to life. And in that time, in that period when we’re tired and likely to make less good decisions, I really think that a home yoga practice, an ability to trust ourselves to be able to commit to rolling out the mat after work, instead of numbing ourselves to our own life, is a life-changer.
The once-in-a-lifetime trip generally won’t change your life. But a daily 10 minutes to get energised, feel focused and calm and reset? Well, that is priceless. So no more excuses, no more ‘too busy’ in this period where we’re working out what the ‘new normal’ can be. Perhaps now is the time to find out how you can just hop on your mat and start to wake up to all that is possible in life.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.