Thursday, February 16, 2012

Life is busy but there is always yoga.

Pictured above: a typical day for me, I have paperwork and a textbook under one arm with my mat (and phone sticking out of it) under the other. I'm awake, dressed, grab my apple as a snack and my delicious chocolate protein shake for breakfast but gasp while checking emails and organizing myself for the day as I realize I have to be somewhere very shortly! 
p.s. Stephanie, I used your camera today to take this picture - I hope you don't mind.

        In my studies as a Master of Social Work student I have class and practicum - I work a lot: try to blog as often as I can, teach yoga, do yoga teacher training, write my thesis and work (where I live, this is common to work while in school). Needless to say having a life otherwise isn't really applicable.

All of the above can lead to burnout, something I have come to understand over this past week more deeply. We live in an age where people are expected to do a lot and to work hard while they do it. Deepak Chopra quips that we need to spend more time as human-beings and spend less as human-doings. I had my own journey in exploring this, questioning do I have good self care techniques or have I been maladaptive in dealing with my stressors?

        My clients, yoga students and friends frequently remark that they perceive me as a happy guy, I smile a lot and appear to them to usually be in a good mood. Importantly, I do feel good and am generally a pretty happy guy. So, what do I do? Yoga. First thing in the morning, every day for twenty minutes I have my own practice. I had a really stressful week, last week and found that yoga is what grounds me. Allow me to indulge and define ground for a moment; grounding is essentially what I believe gives me emotion regulation and clears my mind, it's the time that I dedicate to my practice of yoga. The Yoga Sutra refers to this as Abhyasa (having a diligent, focused practice). When I lose this diligent and focused practice, I feel it.

Now, doing yoga every morning can sometimes not be the easiest thing to do so some nights I roll my mat out before I go to bed knowing that when it's staring me in the face when I get out of bed - I am more likely to do it. Sometimes I need to set my alarm ten minutes earlier in the morning to make the time for my practice. My morning yoga is generally slow to begin with as I warm up the spine, it picks up in pace and agility as I become more awake; this means that usually I do sun salutations and get into a great flow after about ten minutes of slow, effortful movement. There are however mornings where I don't feel like sweating or going to deep and I modify my practice. I implore you to learn seated sun salutations and use them on the days when you don't feel like getting up and going. There is also always restorative or yin yoga poses which I have also found help energize me or clear my mind when I need it.

This is my form of self-care and I've been good keeping it consistent by getting on my mat every morning and being purposeful in doing so. I also teach yoga and attend/participate in a class a week which I always feel rather zen-like afterwards but yoga alone isn't the key. For me, a good balance of times with friends and family and sticking to a relatively healthy diet keeps me on the right track.

More on yoga later,


  1. I think the visual reminder/motivator of having the yoga mat out is a great idea. Best intentions are often made at night and ignored in favor of the pillows in the morning. :)

    I also notice a big difference in terms of mood and stress when I'm taking care of myself with food and exercise.

  2. As someone who has experienced burnout I cannot agree more with you more. Yoga has become a necessity for me, though I have only recently started trying to introduce it to my morning routine (I often am so "out of it" in the morning that I'm not sure what the clock is trying to tell me). Taking care of myself with the right food, the right amount of sleep, lots of time with friends and time nourishing my mind with reading or writing is also a part of the balance. Without my yoga practice though I wonder if I would be able to appreciate the rest as much as I do?

    Having this wisdom and approach to your life before you reach the point of burnout is really admirable.

    Happy Mardi Gras!