Both of my children are in all day camps this week. This is the first time in over a year that I have had a week of whole days to myself. That is a lot of time. I have in the past spent my limited free time on yoga and other athletic pursuits which after the hour or so of activity has left me little time to do much else. Now the day looms ahead of me each morning—what should I do with this time? I am used to training for an athletic goal. This means finding a training schedule and sticking to it to accomplish the triathlon or endurance run without injury and hopefully faster than before. I sit here trying to find some summer goals to put into my schedule. The first step in attaining any goal is to find one that you really want to accomplish. I have been wanting to paint my brown kitchen table base and chairs black to match my kitchen better. I really want them painted but I keep hesitating knowing that I will need a lot of patience to sand each piece. Do I want this goal badly enough to suffer through the endless sanding?

How we learn to make and achieve goals:
• Decide on a goal.
• Think about all of the steps required to achieve the goal.
• Think about possible setbacks and how to overcome those setbacks.
• Take small steps everyday to achieve the goal.

In yoga we are continuously achieving goals. We allow our body to dictate how far we should take a pose while letting our mind ease our body into those poses further and further. Our mind and body work together taking us slowly but surely to places that we never thought possible to go. We focus our breath on places in our bodies to allow them to relax—and they do. We put our feet up in crow and balance — taking a risk and believing that we can.

When I teach my classes, I begin by setting an intention (goal) for the class.  For example: “Today we will work on balance poses or back bends”. Next I provide the steps that lead up to the more challenging poses. We start small and work our way up–warming our bodies and minds up to taking that risk which comes with the possibility of success. I always tell my classes that falling out of a pose is one of the best ways a teacher can tell that a student is on that thin line between hard work and success.

A fun yoga class project would be to construct a yoga asana book. Provide each student with a paper folder that holds papers with hole punches and for each class give your students a new page to add to their book. By the end of the session each student will have a book of their accomplishments. You can also provide pages with affirmations to go between the poses to unite the mind with the body.

And, yes, my chairs are almost complete. I have given new life to my old furniture by painting them black. The man at the paint store told me that with the oil based paint I was using I only needed to rough up the shiny surface of my old furniture. My initial fears of this project were only in my mind and my goal being (nearly) accomplished has left me eager to add another to my summer list.