Hands up if lately you feel like you are struggling to find time to unwind and just be ... yep my hand is up ! I have always been driven to give it my best , weather it was studying or working hard at my corporate job or partying ... I suppose that's the Pitta in me ... when I left my career to become a yoga teacher things started nice and slow, I had plenty of time to dedicate to my writing , to my family and to cooking ... now it's a different story , I still have more free time than I ever had in my working life but I am finding myself feeling tired and depleted ...so what's going on ? Simple ... I have been pouring lots of energy into my yoga teaching , the running of a home , the kids and my extended family and forgot to replenish my reserves.
Sounds familiar ? If you are stuck and don't know how to change things the Yamas (yoga's very own ethical rules) can help give you the inspiration you need
1) Acknowledge that there is a problem : Satya (truthfullness)
The first step is to acknowledge that there is an issue and be true to yourself. Often it's your body that sends you the first signals : you suffer from back aches, lack of sleep , digestive issues ,chronic tiredness, depression , anxiety ... these are just a few of those signals , are you listening ? If you don't the body will start to speak louder and louder with the on-set of des-ease (the cessasion of ease ).
Often we tell ourselves stories about how essential the work we do is to others, how indispensable we are and how we cannot possibly cancel this or that appointment without causing a catastrophe of sort... the only thing I can say is try ... try to take that day off , try and turn the pc off , postpone that meeting and see what happens ... if my theory is correct nothing will.
2) Be kind to yourself : Ahimsa ( non violence)
Once you have taken the step to recognise that there is an issue it's time to cut yourself some slack. You are doing all you can and the best you can already but working yourself to the ground will not help anyone in the long run.
Your body has sent you the message that it's time to slow down , what activities can you drop to focus on yourself ad your well being ? Can that report wait until next week ? Should you set the expectations that the meeting will happen in 2 weeks time rather than next week? Can you delegate some of your tasks to someone else ?
Often we are so busy in caring for others that we put ourselves at the bottom of the list when we should be at the top. Your energy works just like a bank account , depleted energy must be replenished with nourishing practices and only you can decide that you are worthy of been looked after.
Good nutrition, unhurried meals and good sleep hygiene are some of the things you can focus on to ensure you are doing that.
3) Beware the time thieves : Asteya ( non-stealing)
How many times have you wished there were 48 hours in a day? I hear you ! And yet how many times have you stopped to wonder how you ended up with just a few minutes for yourself. Weather we know it or not we are all guilty of it at some point , we all are time thieves! Give your time the importance it deserves, learn how to say "No"!
It's nice to be nice and do things for others but do make sure that you do not forget to earmark time for yourself. Block some time off every day to do what you love, to do something you have wanted to do for a while. Learn a new language, do yoga , listen to your favourite music, browse the internet for that recipe you have been meaning to cook ... create space for you , to stay in touch with yourself, with who you are and what you love doing!
4) Share your gifts in your own terms : Aparigraha ( non -avarice)
Now that you have regained control of your time you can decide to share your natural gifts with others at your own pace and in your own time. Take the example of cooking, I love cooking but most of the time I am cooking meals for the family in a functional and practical way ... things that everyone like and that don't take long to cook , once in a while when I decide I am relaxing I would cook a meal that my mum or my grandma made without hurrying, taking time to choose the best ingredients, to reduce things down without worrying about how long it will take. I then sit down with my family and friends and enjoy it, talking about how I cooked it ...what are your passions? Are you following your passions on a regular basis and sharing them with others ?
5) Save your energy for what really matters : Bramacharya (restraint to preserve your energy for Brahma)
Sometimes when we have lots on our plate already we end up prioritising based on what others are telling us it's important or what we think we should be doing in order to meet our commitments as fathers, mothers , managers etc... We then go ahead and carry on taking on more tasks that do not necessarily need to be completed right now ( washing the car, putting that washing on, cutting the lawn etc...) then we fall asleep on the sofa or even at our desk. When I grew up I watched my mum running around the house constantly tidying and cleaning after everyone, cooking and then washing up whilst we were all watching tv and relaxing and I often feel compelled to do the same but in the last few years I have become acutely aware of the need for me to remind myself that some things can wait, sometimes it's ok to lay on the sofa and watch tv ,read a book or have a hot bath.
I do not need anyone's permission to recharge and restore, I just need to allow myself to rest, it is in fact fundamental that I look after my energy levels so that I can continue being the best I can be for me and those around me.
These are the 5 Yamas , the first limb of yoga,and just like Asana (the poses) , the Yamas take practice , a lot of practice...
Thank you for reading.
Love and light