It was at some point last month while I was in the midst of wrapping presents, clicking through Amazon Prime and attempting to make a slow cooker chili that I began to feel it. The overwhelming to-do list where the more items I check off, the more suddenly seem to appear. While my love for the holiday season goes deep, I could do without the stress waiting in the back corner for when it just gets to be too much. Although I’ve worked on implementing strategies to stop anxious feelings in their tracks, I still have a ways to go. After another bow was added and stocking stuffer ordered, it occured to me that I hadn’t been invested in my yoga practice for weeks. Knowing myself, letting go of my yoga practice means letting go of my other peace-inducing habits. I was heading straight for anxiety city, full speed. This wasn’t a ride on the Polar Express.
While I was still teaching my weekly yin and vinyasa flows and occasionally stepping on my mat for sequence work, but my progress had been limited, if at all. I was tight and tense, not only in my body, but in my mind. Yet the thing about yoga is, it actually has very little to do with the asanas (postures) themselves. Do I need to get myself to sweaty, heart pumping flow more often? For sure. But mostly, I need to go back to living a yoga life outside of the studio walls. As I made plans to get my butt to class, I started jotting down the other areas I wanted to focus on in the new year. So, to generalize this as simply a list of *yoga* resolutions is doing a disservice for all it encompasses…but calling it a list to keep myself happy and sane in 2018 is less catchy.
Find Peace in the Chaos
As a school teacher, I’ve recognized how drastically my schedule as I transition from the overwhelming school year to the serene summer break, and back again. It was this year in particular I noticed that I felt more stress towards the end of august despite nothing have changed in my life. This heavy weight just sorta crept up onto my shoulders, causing the wheels in my mind to start turning at remarkable speeds with never a moment to relax. During the summer, I’m able to find time for yoga class, catch up on sleep, enjoy tea in the morning and home-cooked meals at night. I felt my anxiety dissipate as soon as the temperatures start to rise. Which, when you have nowhere to be, is as un-stressful as it gets. So for this year, I’m focusing on capturing those calm feelings when life gets the best of me. After all, it’s easy to find peace when your calendar is open and you don’t have 27 little people calling your name to ask a question that’s actually a complaint about their neighbor coloring on their worksheet. You know, the usual. So instead of just accepting these months as the crazy ones, I’m going to look for the little moments of peace that keep me sane, and hopefully grow them into the big moments of serenity.
Part of the problem from September-June is I like to test myself by seeking out ways to make myself as busy as possible. After a 5am wake up call for the gym, followed by a full work day, I’ll then convince myself it’s necessary to run three different errands and be home into to make a full dinner. Loads of laundry, tidying up and remembering to meditate (but being too busy to sit still) all sneak their way into my daily routine. So this year, I’m going to redefine busy and make a schedule that allows for more wellness activities than just checking things off a list. Rather than jampacking a million to-dos into a 24 hour period, I will be gentle with myself and opt to get rid of the timelines I create. If a package is mailed a day late or we have to live without almond milk for a week, it will be okay. As soon as I check something off, a new task appears, so I might as well take my time while I can.
Discover the Purpose ofEmpty Moments
Along with unpacking my schedule, I’d like to spend my *free time* pursuing hobbies and interests that refill me, rather than drain me further. This means eliminating social media as a past-time, since I’ve always pretended that counts as relaxing. It also means being okay sitting in silence, reading a book for more than ten minutes and having genuine and meaningful conversations with loved ones. But mostly, this means leaving a few hours a week blank. Without a constant need to be accomplishing something, I’ll leave more open spaces for what I need to find me, instead of me always being on the lookout for the next project.
Do Some Good, Fulfill Seva
My type A tendencies often lead me to spend a lot of time thinking about what do I need to do, what problem do I need to fix, where should I be going. I’m working on taking the “I” out of the equation and lending myself to what other need. Part of my yoga training was to perform seva, a selfless service. I’ve started this year by signing up with Lost Dog to handle dogs at adoption events. Giving a few hours of my time during the week will help me take the focus off of what I need, and allow me a little more insight to what the world around me needs.
Establish My Own Practice Routine
Teaching yin has been a huge blessing in my life, but realistically, teaching each week takes away from my own time to practice. My logistical plan is to head to the studio early before my class and spend some quality time on my own sequences and listening in my body. Practice is not defined by a 60 minute block, 20 minutes here and there still allows me to grow as not only a teacher, but as a yogi.
Meditate, Meditate, Meditate
I just need to do it. I will get into stints will I’ll sit for 20 minutes each day, but then lose it as soon as something pops up during the week (which is, like, always). I give props to myself for keeping my gym routine in check, not I just need to keep those 20 minutes before bed sacred and use it as a time to cleanse my mind. As someone who has difficulty sitting down and being still, I know it’s more important than ever to begin this calming ritual as life is only going to get crazier.
Ask Myself What Brings Me Joy, Daily
Having been on this earth for two decades and nine years (hey, not 30 yet), one would think I had a pretty good idea on what makes me happy. While overall I know what I love (hiking up mountains with my fiance, vegan donuts, reading World War II novels and 85 degrees yoga classes…not a single degree warmer), I’m not always aware of the day-to-day decisions I make that impact my happiness. I’m continually learning to decline work assignments that push my work-life balance off kilter, to seek out time with people I genuinely find inspiring and kind, and maybe, just maybe, not eat an entire row of oreos in one sitting. I’ll regret it tomorrow. Big picture, I love the good I’ve found in my life. Now it’s time to focus on the little tiny pieces of life and ensure that joy is at the root of all of them.
What are your goals for 2018? How are you finding peace and serenity in the new year?