Last Sunday I took my first post-injury yoga class. As much as I’d like to say I loved it and it felt amazing to be back on my mat….it didn’t. I don’t know if it was because the class was so packed (mat to mat…and I was hoping for a more intimate first practice back) or whether it was because it was in a different room than normal (clearly I don’t like change lol), but it just didn’t feel good. Granted, I knew I’d be out of practice and sore given the fact that I hadn’t used those muscles in two months, but I just didn’t have that same sense of enjoyment that I usually do. Instead of feeling pushed to my limits, I felt like I was just going through the motions and I actually had trouble working up a sweat (crazy since it’s HOT power yoga!). At the end of class, instead of feeling accomplished and filled with calm, I actually felt a little anxious. Not ideal.
So for now, I’m gonna stick with running and lifting because that’s what’s feeling good. I’m hoping once we get a little farther away from the 1st of the year the classes at my studio will stop being so packed and then maybe I can return to my practice. Just as I’ve taken breaks with other forms of exercise in the past, this time I’m taking a break with yoga until I actually feel the urge to go. I’ll stick with foam rolling and stretching on my own to keep my muscles healthy and loose in the mean time!
With that all that said, even in a bad (for me) yoga class, I still ALWAYS ALWAYS walk away with an important message. And that’s what I wanted to share with you today. This post is actually from BEFORE I was injured, but I never had the chance to share it with you all. So this lesson was learned a few months back, but it’s still just as relevant. Travel back in time with me…
In my most recent yoga class, my teacher shared her home practice with us. I thought it was pretty cool to get an inside look at what my teacher does when she is on her own. It was both physically and mentally challenging. The flows were intense, the holds were long, by the hardest part was that most of it was self driven by out breath. For our holds she had us count our breaths before moving to the next position and used our breaths to really time out the whole class. You don’t realize how long ten ujayi breaths really is until you have to do it by your own pacing and not from being cued.
An added to challenge to the class was that she didn’t play music throughout like she usually does. Sometimes I don’t mind a music free flow to just be with my thoughts and breath, but I have to admit, music is nice. It’s a good distraction and keeps things fun and light. That can be a problem though in itself. In doing its duty of distraction, it pulls our focus away from our breath….the foundation of our whole practice.
This is when my teacher discussed the balance you have to try to strike between breath and music. Each are important and each can be incorporated into a successful flow. You have to be able to hear your own breath, but it’s still nice to have a little ambient music in the background too. This same principle applies to life…
I feel like we all go through life seeking balance. Between responsibility and desires, between needs and wants, between work and play. But is it really possible….and should we even be striving for this perfect harmony?
Just as my teacher noted that when you’re in a pose and trying to focus on one aspect of it, you lose another. As you’re lengthening your legs you lose the power in your arms, as you focus on reigniting your arms you lose your breath, and on and on in an endless cycle of trying to keep yourself wholly focused. But that’s what keeps you present. THAT’S what keeps you balanced. There is magic in the chaos of trying to stay centered. The balancing act is more important than the resultant balance.
You could go on the internet and find dozens of tips for finding that perfect work-life balance, maybe some of them will get you closer. But perhaps the key to true happiness is learning to accept that it’s a process, it’s a journey, and it will never be truly achieved.
So instead of striving for perfection why not do the following…
Accept that you’ll never have it all, perfection isn’t attainable and you’ll always come up short if you set expectations for yourself too high. Instead, just try to prioritize things and realize that you can’t do it all. But by putting things in life into a hierarchy of what means the most to you, you can make sure you’re covering the things that will bring you the most joy and satisfaction in the long run.
Your idea of balance is going to look different from someone else’s. Just as no one is going to physically look like you (unless you’re a twin!), no ones life is going to map out in the same exact way as your either. In addition don’t assume that what someone projects into the world is a true snapshot of what their life is life. Often times people appear to have it all together when in reality they’re just as confused as you are. So refrain from comparison, only focus on finding what works best for you.
It’s in the Declaration of Independence, but unfortunately we often forget to do it! We focus on pleasing others, what others think of us, being ‘successful’ (whatever that means), checking things off of our bucket lists, and constantly moving up in the world, instead really working towards our passions and what feeds our souls. When you focus on attaining happiness and becoming more mindful of what leads you to feeling that way, you’ll find that things balance themselves out naturally. The universe is a special entity and it really does have a way of working with you if you let things take their course.
So, next time you’re worried about balance in your life, living up to other people’s standards, or not being as assured in yourself as the person next to you…remember balance is relative. True balance is being able to let go and let things come as they will. Sometimes we’ll be working more than we should and other times we’ll be relaxing too much, sometimes we’ll be too indulgent and other times we should be less strict with ourselves. Life ebbs and flows, and we’re just sailing along discovering and learning along the way.
[Shoutout to yoga class for always bringing about some good stream of consciousness thoughts in me 🙂 ]
Do you ever take a break from activities you love?
Do you think it’s possible to foster a work-life balance?
What does balance look like for YOU?