Something that I regularly instruct my yoga students to do is to not push themselves and to listen to their bodies. But what does it really mean to not push, and how can we learn to listen to what our bodies are telling us? How can we really achieve these things, without knowing how? I have been thinking about this a lot lately because, although I am naturally a very driven and motivated person, I regularly burn myself out: I work a full-time job, have my own daily yoga practice, teach yoga, have hobbies, run events, and have family and friends. Sound familiar? I keep up with this hectic schedule until I find myself in bed for days on end, sleeping and recovering.
I've decided that this isn't sustainable: Something has to give. Below, I'm sharing some tips that I am incorporating into my life to help me learn how to not push myself, how to listen to my body, and how to slow down.
We can’t do everything, even if we want to. Make sure that you are using your time wisely, and set aside time to do what you really want to do, like hobbies, exercise, and spending time with loved ones. For me, this means cutting down the hours I work: Although it will have a huge financial impact, it will give me back some time to relax, which we all need to do more.
Start a meditation practice, or recommit to it! Many of us have a daily physical yoga practice, but often don’t incorporate meditation. The irony of this is that our physical asana practice is supposed to prepare us to sit for long periods of time. I have been using a variety of apps to help me get started with a more regular meditation practice, and having the guidance has been extremely helpful.
Sleep! I used to massively underrate sleep: With so much to do, my sleep is always something that suffers. Recently, I have been trying to go to bed at a similar time every night—and making sure it's before midnight. I quickly noticed a difference in my energy levels: I wasn’t drinking coffee after coffee and I’m not so hungry. I will never let my sleep suffer again.
Last: Don’t beat yourself up. If you want to cuddle up and watch Netflix with a pack of cookies and a bottle of wine (pick your poison!) then that’s OK. There is no need to stress about it: Live your life how you want to, now that you know how to listen to your body.
I think this will always be something I am working on, but, then again, we all have work to do (yes, even the picture-perfect yogis you see on social media). Many of us get carried away, forget to slow down and rest, and need reminders to calm down and tune in to ourselves. This is normal, so don't feel bad. Just learn to listen to your body and what you need.
Listen. Breathe. Be mindful. Have fun.