What You Should Never Be To Busy To Do

The test of your yoga practice? When life is busy.

In less that two days, I’m flying off to Minneapolis for the week for non-yoga work. My organization puts on an annual conference and next week is the week. It promises to be a lot of fun, as I get really excited to meet up in person with so many people that I only know online. It is also is guaranteed to be many long hours of work, lots of logistics to coordinate, plus the inevitable problems that arise when you run an event.

If you’ve ever planned a big event, especially with a very small staff or group of people, you can imagine that the past few weeks have been a bit busy to say the least. It’s really been a challenge for me to keep up my yoga practice amidst work, teaching, volunteering and trying to get a decent amount of sleep in there too.

I think this is a pretty universal challenge in for our culture as a whole. Whether you’re trying to keep up an exercise routine or consistent yoga practice or anything that is important for you to prioritize in your life, it is a constant puzzle to try to piece together time to do it while also taking care of your responsibilities (work, family, etc.).

So this has been a time for me to really test how I can keep up my yoga practice in the face of a long to-do list. I’ve become more aware of the traps I can easily fall into. One is to tell myself to just work harder. I hunker down over the laptop determined to just keep cranking. Turns out, taking time to relax instead of working harder actually increases your productivity.

The other trap is sleep. Or rather, lack of it. At night, I’ll be determined to get something or other done and then suddenly realize the time. That means being more tired the next day or not getting up as early as I’d hoped, and then feeling all the more behind. You can probably see how this circle continues. When I let myself get overly tired, I have less motivation to unroll my mat and feel uninspired when it comes to planning a class to teach. Being exhausted leaves me without the energy to enjoy when I do have those periods of free time, and thus, enjoying life less.

I’ve come up with a number of ways that are helping me avoid these potential pitfalls. One is making a yoga date every week for at least one time that I am going to either go to practice with a friend or go to a yoga class. Having a wonderful buddy who I know I won’t bail on is key to keeping me to my commitment. It also gives me a fun part of my day to look forward to and that motivates me to focus and complete the work at hand.

Taking small breaks is my other new behavior. If there’s “no time” to practice that day, I try to take 15-30 minutes to do a short practice or a ten minute walk around the neighborhood. Instead of berating myself up about not getting it together enough to do a more advanced practice or longer walk,  I have to take the different approach of, “Well, what practice can I do today?”, and congratulate myself when I make time to include yoga and movement into my day, however short the time.

Another way around my traps is do let go of doing everything I want to do. I’ve accepted that my house will not be clean until after the conference. I took a break from managing any volunteer events this month. Yes, these are things that I feel like I should be able to handle along with everything else, but the reality is temporarily pulling back from activities that are not as important gives me more time and energy to devote to the things that are more of a priority.

But however busy I am, I know the one thing that I never want to be too busy to do: taking that moment to make a connection to something outside of myself. I can give a friend a call or text just to say hi. When I have a big inbox of emails to respond to, that still means I can take the extra minute to add a “thank you” or “hope you had fun skiing last weekend” to the message. When one of my cats decides to sit on top of me, effectively making it impossible for me to type, I can take that as a sign that I do have time to spend a few minutes doing some kitty cuddling.

Is there still a long way for me? Yes. Case in point: it is almost 11:30pm when I’m typing this and I really needed to be in bed sleeping already. Yet every time I side-step one of my traps, my practice gets that much stronger.

I’d love to hear from you! What pitfalls do you run into when life gets busy and how do you avoid them?

 

Beauty Tidbits of the Week

Reporting in here on your Sunday for a round-up of fun, interesting, and good reads around the web. Enjoy!

 

Keeping Our Minds in Practice: An Interview with Yogini Carol Horton. ~ Mary King
[side note: I just discovered Carol and am eager to read more of her writing and upcoming books.]

How To Ensure You’ll Do Anything

What’s Your Yoga Name? (via Yoga Dork)

All Washed Up

You know the term, “all washed up” to describe something that’s old, worn out, and sad? It’s a really stupid and frankly, inaccurate phrase.

The other day I went for a beach walk with my friend Sandy. This being Ocean Beach in San Francisco, we were all bundled up, but the cold, crisp wind felt good on my face. It was one of those lucky days at the beach where the waves washed ashore all kinds of ocean curiosities.

Sandy enthusiastically began looking for what interesting remnants had turned up. I was struck by how much I can get in my head and not notice all thedetails of the beach. When you start looking for beauty, it’s amazing what you find. Sandy collects the clear sea glass which requires a sharp eye to spot. I collected a number of sand dollars of different sizes and have big plans to use these to decorate or use them for an art project of some sorts. It was a treat to wake up to and revel in the fascinations of the beach.

There were also all these neat rocks that had different swirls of color. It made us wonder where they’d come from and how their markings came to be.

It’s amazing to me what arrives. After being tossed around the tide, traveling about the water, there’s still so much that makes it to the beach as a unique wonder.

Isn’t that like people? Amidst the ebbs and flows of life, getting tossed along the waves, and all that’s happened along our life journey, we eventually find ourselves on solid land again. The markings we’ve picked up along the way only add to our intrigue. Our scars show where we’ve been and the experiences we’ve picked up along the way. Far from being old and washed up, our oddities and quirks are what make us complex, unique beings with life to share.

So I’m embracing being washed up. I can’t think of a better thing to shoot for as I age.

 

 

What the Heck is a Beauty Report?

Crater LakeIt’s not what it sounds like. Luckily beauty reports have nothing to do with anything related to beauty sections in a magazine. Which is a good thing as I am a hopeless case when it comes to knowledge about hair and makeup products.

My main teacher, Ana Forrest, introduced me to beauty reports. As she’s shared with her students, a beauty report is when you look at your day and report back on something of beauty. It might be a gorgeous sunset or the feeling of a baby in your arms. Perhaps it’s a big thing like landing a new job or getting engaged. Or maybe it’s a small thing like a stranger letting you into a line of traffic or holding a door for you. The quote at the top of the blog sums it up well:

“As you become more struggle-free, you’ll be able to take in the beauty of your surroundings. I don’t mean fashion magazine beauty. I mean the beauty that’s all around us that we forget to take in.” –Ana Forrest

Now I’m no Pollyanna, but for me, beauty reports are a way of getting me out of myself. They are a way to turn my naturally perfectionistic way of viewing my life or what I did/didn’t do and how things went as not being good enough. Even on the worst day, I can find some kind of beauty even if it’s just having a friend to commiserate with or realizing, “Hey, I got through today.” Beauty reports have a way of multiplying and ultimately slowing me down enough to appreciate how many amazing parts there are to my life.

This blog is my attempt to look for the beauty both on and off the yoga mat. I seek to share epiphanies, insights and experiences from myself and others in the hopes that it will help you find more beauty in your life and hopefully share a laugh or two in between.