I wanted to write a short blog post about making the time for yoga and self-care, because I still hear many of my yoga students saying they struggle with this. I hear you and I totally get it. Let me share some tips that have helped me.
The first tip is simple but not easy: You have to give yourself permission to take time for self-care. No one else will. I know we all want someone else to say to us, “You’ve been working so hard. You’ve been under a lot of stress. Why don’t you take the day/week/month/year off and just take care of yourself?” Most likely, this is never going to happen, unless you have a great therapist/counselor/yoga teacher who is unbiased and doesn’t depend on you to take care of them. But even if you do have a person like this in your life, ultimately you have to be the one who gives yourself permission. So why do we have such a hard time with this? Because we’ve been raised in a society that tells us we always need to be more, do more and have more. Because we’ve been raised in families that pass down conscious and subconscious beliefs to us that we are are not worthy, that we don’t deserve what we really desire, and that we need to live up to other people’s expectations to be valued. Start examining this in your own life. Do you feel obligated by certain people to do things that you really don’t want to do? Do you tell yourself you don’t have time because really you just don’t feel like you deserve to take time for yourself? Or are you worried about what other people will think if you do? What kind of messages are you telling yourself about your worthiness as a human being? Take time to examine those conscious and subconscious beliefs.
Once you’ve done that, try putting into practice either or both of these techniques that I have learned over the years:
“Who says so?” – I learned this handy technique from my spiritual counselor, John Earle. Any time you realize you’re listening to ‘a voice in your head’ that’s telling you that you don’t have time for yoga or another form of self-care, ask yourself, “Who says so?” I guarantee you will be amazed at what other voices besides your own (maybe it’s the voice of perfection? or guilt? or your mother?) you have talking to you in your head! Do you really need to listen to that voice? How about listening to your own? Once you’ve asked this question, or separately just on their own, you could ask two more questions.
“How do I feel right now?” and “What do I need?” – These are just a couple of the many techniques I learned from psychotherapist and Sensitivity Expert Julie Bjelland’s Brain Training Course. You might write these two questions on some sticky notes around your house, like on your bathroom mirror for example, and then every time you see them throughout the day, take a moment to pause and ask yourself how you’re feeling and what you need. And then do it, without apology!
Finally, because I found it helpful to have some supportive people tell me that I did, in fact, deserve to make time for my own self care, let me pass that support on to you: The world needs your gifts. But you will only be able to shine if you take good care of yourself first. I promise if you do, you will feel so much better and those around you will also receive the benefits of your new found sense of well-being too. You absolutely deserve it, so give yourself some time for yoga and self-care today!