It’s all about balance, isn’t it? You want to follow your chosen path, so you work at that, but you also need to pay the bills, so while you’re learning, or building, you need to earn money in some other way, and then you find yourself dashing about between jobs, activities, commitments and tasks. When do you find the time to unwind? Do you sacrifice sleep for relaxation? Can you even sleep if you don’t relax?
The new school year started two weeks ago, and my new classes started at the same time. I am really enjoying teaching yoga- it doesn’t feel like work at all. Classes are showing signs of picking up, and I am starting to feel that there is a demand and I’m able to share this wonderful practice with people who are seeing just how amazing and beneficial it is. It is the first time in nearly eleven years that I’ve worked anything like full time- although to be fair it’s not all work, it’s college and yoga, as well as my three jobs for other people, but it is commitments on six days of the week- and I’m aware that my stress levels are quite high at the moment juggling all the balls.
I’m trying to put the Yamas and Niyamas into action at the same time, which looks a bit like this:
Ahimsa, do no harm. Making sure I eat well and sleep enough and limit my alcohol days. I took two weeks off alcohol recently- nearly three in the end, because the new rules mean one bottle of wine a week, so after the official fortnight ended I was dry until that Thursday- and was a bit dismayed to notice quite such a difference in my energy levels and how I feel generally. After the last twenty months or so (lockdown and my mother’s illness and passing), almost daily alcohol became quite normalised, so having that break was a really useful tool for me, breaking the links between downtime, tiredness, celebration, relaxation, and alcohol.
Satya, truthfulness. Really seeing what is going on in my head, really noticing if I can’t cope or am masking anxiety or depression, or if fear of anxiety and depression is leading me to project and exacerbate my stress. Recognising what I need, practising what I preach, asking for help, being honest and maintaining my boundaries- saying no when I need to, rather than saying yes and then resenting it, or withdrawing it and letting someone down.
Asteya, non-stealing. Sharing the practice of yoga (which doesn’t belong to me) as openly and widely as possible. Being aware of the needs of others- giving the dog plenty of walks and cuddles. Playing with Violet, reading her stories, taking an interest in her life, making sure I’m not too busy or too wrapped up in my own stuff to be there for her. Reaching out to friends and letting them know they’re in my thoughts. Giving the GTS* plenty of love and respecting his boundaries around his time and energy.
Brahmacharya, not being obsessed with sensual pleasures. In practice this might mean being selective in choices of reading material, for example- so for me, maybe staying off social media, or being more mindful while eating chocolate so that I enjoy each square, rather than polishing off a whole bar and barely noticing that I am.
Aparigraha, non-grasping, letting go of that which doesn’t serve me or which isn’t necessary. Cobwebs- do I really need to clear them today? They can stay (for now). The boat doesn’t need to look perfect. Food shopping- can I do a quick little shop? Do I need a stash of twelve tins of tomatoes? Probably not, Brexit or no Brexit. Pushing my body into the strongest variations of the asana- do I really need to do that? Isn’t it better to accept that today I need a bit more nurturing or rest, in order to be strong for tomorrow?
These five ‘rules’ or guidelines can really help when life is very busy. Keeping an eye on them can certainly help to make things more manageable.
*Gorgeous Tree Surgeon