It’s International Yoga Day, and a great opportunity to reflect over these last 12 months and what they’ve meant to us on an individual level.
Many of us have had a little time to start to connect deeper with ourselves. With continuous lockdowns, increased alone time, and more space, we have been pushed out of our comfort zones and into a place of reflection. Some more willingly than others.
Here at The Frog Project, we've been so lucky to hear many stories of improved self-care routines and many people finding, or discovering, a passion for Yoga. But what happens next, do we let our new habits slide as old life creeps back in, do we even have a choice?
My life is changing, getting busier, what can I do?
We understand, our lives are changing too. We believe we have to hold on to the lessons we've learnt over the last year and slowing down and taking care of ourselves puts us in a much stronger position to be able to thrive and not just survive.
We know this is much easier said than done, and many of our students have been in touch recently to share with us how difficult it has been to stick to all the good habits that have been built up over the last year.
Maybe we’re going back to work, our children's out of school and weekend activities are back on, we have plans to see family and friends, we’re going away! All of these things are wonderful, and necessary, after all we are social animals, and thrive on being and doing with other people.
But we’ve also heard the other side of the coin. Anxieties, stress and tensions are increasing as people are putting their own needs on the backburner. A Frog Project student shared with us this week something that I’m sure we can all relate to:
“I’ve REALLY noticed how much not doing regular yoga has affected my anxiety and just general mood! It’s been really tricky fitting it in since the kids went back to school and life started to go back to normal with longer days at work, the kids’ clubs on the weekends and after school etc! I’m really going to try to do it as much as possible as it was really making a difference!”
So, what can we do?
Well, Yoga has some really interesting lessons that we can apply to this situation to help us understand and bring a little bit of motivation back into the picture.
Yoga says take care of you. Do your duties, but make sure your tanks are filled first. We wear many hats, we’re parents, employees, carers, managers, friends, neighbours. And this wonderful illustration, The Circle of Duty, that I learnt from my teacher Jeenal Metha, gives a great visual representation of what this means.
1. You are in the centre of your world. You are responsible for your own happiness, what you eat, how long you sleep for, what else you consume (social media, TV, interactions with others).
2. When you have taken care of yourself, and feel balanced and ready to go out into the world, you have the energy to move out into the second layer.
To be with people in our lives, our relationships. Our relationships with our spouses or partners, our children and our friends and other family members.
3. Only then can our expand out into the third layer, into our work. And be present at our work with energy and happiness. Finding motivation and growth in our place of work.
4 & 5. From here, we can expand into our community and finally to the planet and for the welfare of everybody.
But far too often, and myself included, we can easily skip step one, and concern ourselves primarily with the wellbeing of our family members. And often, we can skip steps one and two, and concern ourselves primarily with our work. Now, I’m not saying don’t put your children or job as a high priority, but I am saying, put yourself as the highest priority.
What can you do to make this happen?
I hear what you’re saying, how?! As a full time stay-at-home mum with two toddlers, a business to run, a house to clean, 3 meals a day to cook, and everything else that goes along with it all, it’s near impossible. But it has to be done, for our long term wellbeing, and that of the people around us.
What are your non-negotiables?
Make a list: you time, eating well, sleeping well, walking, knitting, singing, yoga. And schedule them into your week, like you would the food shop, coffee with a friend, the laundry, a meeting.
Give yourself permission to take care of you. Cheat where you need to (but don’t go against your internal value system). If you have been used to doing 3 yoga sessions a week and can now only do 1, then do 1. If you have to buy frozen veggies to save chopping and cut down on cooking time, do that. Find shortcuts but don’t jeopardize your mental health, your wellbeing and what you believe in.
It isn’t easy, and time management is a practice of a lifetime. You don’t need to get it right overnight. But by making sure you have the right foundations, you’ll go a lot further. Schedule your ‘you time’ first. It’s important not to compete with yourself or feel any guilt about putting yourself first. There will ALWAYS be stuff to do. And getting yourself in the best frame of mind to do it, will make sure it’s done even better!
What do I do if I’m already stressed?
Stress and tension build up overtime. They get stored in our bodies, our muscles, or tissues and even our cells. They don’t disappear without support, they need time and space to release.
The good news is, you really don’t need to do much to help this happen. All you need to do is relax. Relaxation and mediation are central to yoga and whether it be 10 minutes lying on the floor breathing deep in savasana or a whole hour of yoga nidra, you will be on the right tracks to letting go of stress, tension and anxiety, putting you in a much better place to move forward.
Giving yourself permission is the hardest part. But the more you do it, the easier it will become.
What we do today, directly impacts our tomorrow.
My teacher recently shared this statement with me. Seen in black and white, it seems so simple, so obvious. So why don't we make choices in this way? Join me for a guided reflective practice, some restorative yoga poses and meditation, and give yourself a chance to really relax and let go.
How do you feel right now?
How do you want to feel when you wake up tomorrow morning?
How do you want to feel everyday, from this day forward?
Don't give up and don't compromise. You are important and are the only person accountable and responsible for your wellbeing.
Ready to create a little bit of space for you? Why not try our Live Online Yoga classes, bringing you accessible yoga for all, from our living room to yours. Sign up now for 15 days of free unlimited classes.
Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, yoga teacher trainer and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.