When we went into the first lockdown back in March 2020, I entered into a period of entirely instinctive, ‘however I feel’ yoga practice and surfing. It was glorious. No goals, no structure, no pressure… I was going with the flow. I felt free. I felt great.
Today I find myself (voluntarily) back in a structured and goal-driven practice - I have very specific strength and flexibility goals that all my training is focused towards.
Here’s 2 benefits I know to be true of having specific goals with a structured practice:
- It gives your practice purpose - and therefore you’re much more likely to stick at it through the tough times. You can clearly see your progress and there is nothing more motivating than that. Equally so, you can see exactly where you’re headed. Knowing that your goal yoga pose, feat of strength or skill is coming closer every day is empowering and rewarding.
- There is no better way to achieve goals than specificity and a plan. Diversity is the enemy of goal realisation. If the difference between specific goals and general goals isn’t clear, it can easily be understood through a current personal experience of mine. I’ve been working on the front splits for 4 weeks now, with 3 focused and regimented sessions a week. I’m now only a few centimetres from ‘ass to grass’. Before I started I was at least 30cm from the ground. That’s where 6 years of general flexibility from yoga got me.
But there’s one major drawback of specific goals and a structure - and that’s that it can quickly suck the fun and spontaneity out of your movement practices. There’s a beauty in going with how you feel and responding accordingly. Whether that’s a spontaneous long run to dissolve the stresses of the day, grabbing your board and jumping in the sea when the swell picks up, or body weight circuits in the park on a sunny morning. In any one of those situations how appealing does the same splits practice you’ve been doing on your office floor for 4 weeks feel?
I’m sure there’s a balance to be found, but right now I’m still working that one out for myself.