Discipline: Good for the Soul
By: Phyllis Smith, Co-Founder & CEO, Live Free Yoga
When I say the word, “discipline” what comes to mind? Maybe thoughts of your parents grounding you for missing your curfew or getting detention for skipping class?
This isn’t about that kind of discipline. You know, the kind others inflict on you. No, I’m talking about self-discipline. The kind 15-year-old tennis star, Coco Gauff used to beat one of her tennis idols, Venus Williams. Or the kind the USA Women’s Soccer team used to become 4-time FIFA World Cup champs? They didn’t win by accident. It took hard work and discipline.
Now, the rest of us might never make it to a world stage, but self-discipline is just as important for our success and happiness as it is for any star athlete or performer.
Kids are constantly told by parents and teachers to work hard in school, on their homework, in sports, on stage, music, etc. But they’re not told why. Sure, they’re told it’s important to get good grades so they can go to a good college, get a scholarship or impress somebody else. It’s rarely about how self-discipline and working hard is good for the soul.
Discipline Builds Confidence
We teach our Yoga students in schools about how important discipline and hard work is for building confidence, which every adolescent needs. This is the age of profound change in their lives, which can throw their emotions and psyche out of wack. This is the time when they begin to leave the nest and choose friends over family. If this goes wrong in any way, it can impede on their confidence with long-lasting effects. Our goal is to help them build their confidence level, so they can face the challenges that are thrown at them with resiliency and ease.
One way we do this is by incorporating the Yoga ethical guidelines called, “Yamas” (things not to do) and “Niyamas” (things to do) in all of our classes. Each of our Mindfulness in Motion class integrates one or more of the them as a theme, including Tapas, the Sanskrit word that Kripalu describes as “training your senses.”
We have “youthenized” the word, “Tapas” to mean “working hard.” We use this theme to invite the students to challenge themselves in the physical Yoga poses but to also notice the thoughts that arise in their minds as they work hard to push through the challenge. Self-doubt? Judgement? We then ask them to compare how they feel after they have worked hard to achieve their goal. Better? Proud? Relieved? More confident?
Yoga is a metaphor for life. It works from the inside-out, not the other way around. So, everything you do on the mat represents what you do in life. If you can achieve your goal on the mat and stretch your limits just a bit, you can do the same with other goals such as school projects, homework and even building better relationships.
Discipline for Life
I snapped the photograph of the father and son fishing when I was walking my dogs around a nearby lake just after sunrise. I was struck at the discipline required to make this moment happen. I thought of how the father and son set their intention to go fishing first thing in the morning. They made a choice to put time aside in their day to share quality time on a summer day while the boy was on vacation from school. Just the two of them. It took motivation, planning and consistency in their efforts to make this special moment happen. These moments are building blocks for developing a strong relationship that will last a lifetime.
Motivation, Commitment and Consistency
Discipline isn’t easy. Just like the father and son, it requires motivation, commitment and consistency. When we activate those three things, working hard no longer feels like hard labor. There’s a flow, like in Vinyasa Yoga, that propels us forward with ease. With discipline, there is freedom. When we accomplish our goals, there is pure joy.
Discipline Will Set You Free
I heard Coco Gauff say that if she doesn’t think she could beat someone on the tennis court, she doesn’t show up on the court. That kind of confidence comes from self-discipline and a strong intention.
Discipline builds confidence, which leads to self-love. When we truly love ourselves, nothing can stand in our way. That is our intention in our Live Free Yoga classes – to build confidence and self-love in our students. If we can do that with just one student, the ripple effect will spread from student, to friends, to family to community and beyond.
Discipline gives you the confidence to face challenges head-on. It opens doors and new opportunities for you to step outside of your comfort zone, take risks that will serve you well and the intuition to know when it doesn’t. Discipline will set you free to follow your dreams and be all that you want to be.
Perform better in school and in life. Join us for our Live Free Yoga Back-To-School Summer Camp “You Got This: Tackling School Stress” August 5-8 at Sacred Space in Frisco. Click HERE to learn more.
About the Author:
Phyllis Smith is the Co-Founder & CEO of Live Free Yoga
Phyllis Smith is the Co-founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga, which offers Yoga and mindfulness programs for teens and those who serve them.
Discover how you can integrate discipline and mindfulness into your life and/or the youth you serve at our 20-hour Yoga Alliance and TEA approved “Teacher Training: Mindfulness in Motion for Teens” (Next one coming up Aug 2-4, 2019 at Raja Yoga in Fort Worth. Contact Phyllis Smith at Phyllis@LiveFreeYoga.com or visit LiveFreeYoga.com.