One of the biggest gifts yoga has given me over the years is that of self-care. By repeatedly coming back to the yoga mat, paying attention to breath and body, I have been able to slow things down and take time to care for myself. My yoga practice was especially essential to me after I had my baby over two years ago, when self-care is critical but very hard to do. I took Carol’s Baby & Me classes at Tranquil Space almost religiously, finding the community of the class—where moms and babies practice yoga together, with the most interesting savasana you will ever experience—essential to my survival and well-being as a first-time mom.
It was my yoga practice that told me a little over six months ago to take a break from teaching yoga. I was feeling especially overextended. Not only did I have my “regular” life—a full-time day job, being a mom to an active toddler, teaching yoga classes, and leading yoga teacher training sessions—but also I suddenly had three caregiving crises with my mother, stepmother, and mother-in-law. I was in tears in savasana, and I knew I had to let go of multiple aspects of my life. Part of that was taking a break from teaching yoga so that I could carve out a little time for myself.
I started small—making sure to get in at least one yoga pose a day. (Often, it was my favorite pose, legs-up-the-wall, practiced at work with my door closed for five minutes a day.) Then, I started carving out some larger chunks of time for myself, such as having lunch with my best friend without a toddler in tow. Then, it was putting in some boundaries with work and some family members to create more space for myself. In doing so, I realized that by taking care of myself, I was setting a good example for my daughter on the importance of self-care.
Recently, I started teaching yoga again at Tranquil Space. It feels great to be back. I have always thought of teaching as the ultimate yoga practice, in that the ultimate goal of my practice is to quiet the mind and be present for myself. In teaching yoga, I am 100% focused on the task at hand. I especially love being a part of the community at Tranquil Space, where I have always felt valued and supported.
I hope that during this holiday season, all of us can take some time to slow things down and engage in self-care. That could be bay making it to yoga classes, writing in a journal, meditating, or engaging in other activities that ground and center you. Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a wonderful start to 2014!