Vinyasa yoga, integral yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, chair yoga, yoga therapy—I love them all, but pajama yoga is what I do in the morning. Pajama yoga is yoga plus—a secret weapon to eliminate procrastination. Or maybe it’s a healthy way to procrastinate yourself into what you know you really should be doing.
I start most mornings with pajama yoga. That means stretching, twisting, restorative poses while I’m still in bed. Later, after I get up, still in my pajamas, I get more vigorous to wake myself up and do a few sun salutations. Later still, I meditate. If I’m writing or studying, that comes next. After that, I go to work, and later, three times a week, I take a vinyasa class at my neighborhood studio. I wake up around 6 a.m. No alarm clock. I sleep well and I wake up rested.
Busy morning, no? I’ve learned that if something is important to me, I’d better do it right away; I try not to let myself have the time to reconsider and procrastinate. My system works because I trick myself. I get busy before I’m awake enough to know any better. That is, while I’m still half asleep and haven’t figured out my excuses—I’m not in the mood, I’m too tired, I’m simply too busy with other stuff, I can always do it later …
I sneak away from the mañana syndrome because I know that if I tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow, it will never get done. Sound compulsive? Perhaps. But it works. It’s a way to create healthy habits. Also, I think it takes more energy to put things off than to just do them. Do them now.
Of course, I’m the world’s biggest procrastinator, but one with a secret. I have a calendar, I write stuff down (right away, so I don’t forget), and then I figure out how to do what when. I’ve learned how to plan.
Planning is a component of self-regulation. Self-regulation helps people pay attention to self-care and the myriad things that are a part of life. I go to sleep when I’m tired, for example, rather than forcing myself to stay awake because I’m having a good time and I don’t want the party to stop.
What is the difference between spontaneity and impulsivity? Spontaneity is joyful and takes into account the effects of free-spirited actions. Impulsivity is just doing whatever you feel like, full speed ahead, darn the torpedoes, and darn anybody or anything that gets in the way. Impulsive means not accepting or even thinking about the consequences of your actions or your inaction. Spontaneity holds your whole life in mind and protects yourself and your loved ones.
So why are some people spontaneous and others impulsive? Naomi Friedman and her graduate student Daniel Gustavson show in their article, Genetic Relations Among Procrastination, Impulsivity, and Goal-Management Ability, published in Psychological Science, that procrastination, impulsivity, and goal-directed behaviors are genetically determined. So maybe I can thank my parents.
I think I have sneaky plan-maker genes too, if there are such things. I’ve found a way to get around procrastination by breaking up my tasks into small bites and making them appealing. I wake up. Stretch. Twist. Find a comfortable pose and hold it. Bit by bit, I get out of bed and do what’s next. That’s not too shabby a way to wake up, and I do it all while I’m still wearing my pajamas. (And my pajamas aren’t shabby, either.)
My no-longer-secret method:
- Establish healthy practices of self-care.
- Know the consequences of your actions and your inactions.
- Get busy right away.
- Eliminate temptation.
- Break the big tasks into small bites.
- Reward yourself when you deserve it.
- Have a sense of humor.
- Wear attractive pajamas.
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