For the past few weeks I’ve been moving full steam ahead on more than a few projects – picking up some extra classes to teach, squeezing in time to work on the book, offering help and advice to other yogis that are working on inspiring projects, working with yoga athletes to coach them for competition, working on my own set of postures for competition, and then let’s not forget my actual writing job in which I get to earn a paycheck. It’s been one whirlwind of a week after the next.
I had multiple people ask me lately, “How are you doing all this? What’s your secret?”
I would reply, “Why yoga, of course!” And they would laugh and shake their head at me in disbelief.
And then it hit me. Sitting on the couch last Monday morning, preparing to move upstairs to my desk to work on my book and the writing project for one of my clients with its looming deadline before I headed off to teach class, I found myself fresh out of energy. A heaviness came over my eyes and my limbs felt full of lead, unable to move.
My husband, Jeffrey, came into the family room and asked, “Hey, are you okay?” as he packed up his bag to leave for work.
“I think I need a break.”
“I hope you take it,” he responded, giving me a kiss, patting Chandi, our dog on the head and smiling back at me as he walked out the door to the garage.
And that morning, actually that whole day, I took the break. I watched a show I had saved to the DVR that Jeffrey would never have the patience to sit through. I slowly packed up my bag for class and drove to the studio, listening to Christmas music on the way. I taught a good class, but allowed myself to have a quieter delivery of the instructions for each posture, keeping some of my energy for me, instead of letting it leak out all over the place. When I came home I didn’t even shower, but went back to watching something on TV, eating a good lunch, taking a leisurely stroll with the dog and then heading back to the studio to take an evening class.
I had zero guilt about not getting the work done that I had intended to that day. I needed the break. In a regular yoga practice, you learn to take the break. The break is not giving up. The break is there so that you have the energy and strength to move on.
The first time I allowed myself to take a break was in Teacher Training. There I was lying in Savasana while the rest of the trainees were in the middle of Fixed Firm Pose. But because I took the break, I was able to get through the rest of the class.
As a teacher, I find it even more difficult to take a break during the 60 or 90-minute session. Your students are watching. There is some pressure there. But when I need a break, I take it. The yoga students around me have the chance to see what taking a break looks like. It’s not dramatic. There are no funny faces or indication of a body part that isn’t working with me that day. I stand there. I wait for my heartrate to come down a bit. I center myself on my breath. Maybe I take a knee as a last resort. Then I return to the practice when I’m ready.
Breaks are an every-once-in-a-long-while event, but they are there to take if you need them. A break while you are practicing, demonstrates compassion for You and everything you are on a given day. Taking a break does not mean you had a bad class. It is an act of self-care. It is a positive thing on most days.
Last Monday was not a bad day. It was a break day. The rest of week I was able to go full steam ahead once again and accomplish the goals that were in front of me. In this way, and in so many ways, my yoga practice was a reflection of how I treat my life and has instilled in me the habits to live fully through each breath.
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