by Chelsea Doohan

Do you make your bed?

As someone who has never been a habitual bed maker, I would like to think that it counts for absolutely nothing.

And at the same time, I recently began to suspect that my unmade bed was contributing–albeit in a small way–to a larger sense of messiness in my life.

I have tried to get into the habit of making my bed before, but in the past when I did so, I always focused on what was difficult about it.

“I’m not a morning person, I feel so tired in the morning….” Or I would fool myself into thinking that I would come back later and do it, once I wasn’t so tired… and I never did.

I told myself I really, really ought to do it… but I usually didn’t. And I would get down on myself because I wasn’t doing something I felt like I should do. Ultimately, I gave up.

But recently, after years of not making my bed, I was turning over a new leaf in other aspects of my life, and I decided to try again.

This time, I saw it as an experiment and a small game. It was less about “I MUST do this” and more about “What might happen if I do?” I see a crucial difference between the two. When I approached bed-making with the former attitude, it simply didn’t get done.

You probably know where this is going…. When I approached it with the latter attitude, I actually began to form a new habit!

I love my new routine. I get a little reward at the end of the day, when I go to my bed and it is tidy and ready for me to climb in. I feel calmer. I feel just a little bit more settled in my life and my space. And I feel a small empowerment knowing that I made that change, I decided to do it, and I followed through. And it took–literally–less than thirty seconds a day.

How does this relate to yoga?

Simple Yoga was developed out of the observation that small, simple things can make a big difference. This is true on and off the yoga mat.

Small, simple actions that lead to big changes go hand in hand with another principle of Simple Yoga, and that is curiosity.

Curiosity creates the best conditions for learning. When I adopted the “What would happen if…” attitude towards making my bed, I was able to learn a new behavior that stuck.

On the yoga mat, the combination of small actions and curiosity can lead your practice along. Following those things, and letting them be the backbone of the practice, makes both burnout and apathy less likely.

For example, if there is a pose that you always struggle with in class, it is very likely that you don’t practice it at home. But what if curiosity took over and you wondered… “What would happen if I practiced this pose at home, in between classes I attend?”

Using the principle of small, simple actions, you could commit to doing that pose every other day for a week. Nothing but that. It would take five minutes–at most–four times a week, so it’s less than twenty minutes out of your week. (That’s about the length of a sitcom minus commercials.)

Do this for a week or two, and I’d be willing to bet there would be some changes.

Five minutes of yoga every other day may not seem like much, but it can grow into something more, especially when combined with going to classes and using the Simple Yoga approach in your everyday life off the mat.

Remember that these structures that we set up are little games. They can be silly, goofy, or dorky. Sometimes when I am in my morning stupor, stumbling around, clumsily making my bed, I laugh and make self-deprecating (and kind) jokes to myself.

Similarly, on the yoga mat, I generally laugh when I fall out of a yoga pose. If I don’t laugh, I try to readjust my attitude… Because people falling down is just funny! And I am no exception.

Whether it is a yoga pose you want to work on or a problem in your personal life (just remember to start small), you can begin to approach it in this way by asking “What would happen if…?” Then, use small actions and curiosity to guide you along. Pick a game. Go and play it.