Happy November! As many of you know I teach yoga at some of the Powerflow Yoga locations in NJ. Some of the studios highlight a “Pose of the Month.” This month is Warrior III (Virabhadrasna III), and as teachers we’ve been asked to incorporate this pose and its many variations into our classes, and offer up lots of great anatomy tips and benefits as to what this pose does for our students. Fun! However, the majority of my students were borderline sobbing when I announced the pose of the month. It reminded me how much people dislike balance poses! For me it’s the opposite… I LOVE balance. Maybe my background in dancing or hurdling tuned me on to the art of balance. In turn, I’ve learned how to incorporate balance into my life not only on my mat, but in my every day routine.
This is the most important thing I’ve learned about balance: It is not something you find, it is something you create. Think about the first time you tried some type of balance pose in yoga, like Tree Pose, or Crow Pose. It was likely that you were tyring to just find the balance — aka desperately trying to stick your foot on your leg for more than ½ a second, or praying and hoping that all 10 toes would leave the floor and you wouldn’t face plant in the process. Creating balance looks different. In requires focus, intention, stability, confidence, patience, and equalizing. When all of those things come into alignment, all of a sudden balance isn’t so hard. I find all of this to be true about balance off the mat. I have a pretty hectic schedule. I have the flexibility of working full-time from home, while also making room for teaching 8-10 hours of yoga per week, practicing yoga daily, engaging in my hobbies, studying for my yoga therapy certification, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying down time with myself. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve received many compliments over the years on how I ‘easily’ kept a balance of work, play and down time… however it wasn’t always easy. In fact, a little over a year ago I woke up every day with a fair amount of anxiety because I couldn’t figure out how to make my schedule work. I was one of those people who always said “there aren’t enough hours in the day.” I knew that my schedule was hectic, and rather than making rules to create balance, I just woke up every morning hoping and wishing that I’d somehow, some way get everything done. I never did, until I realized I needed focus, intention, stability, confidence, patience, and the ability to equalize to create a balanced life. Below are my tips:
Make a List: I’m a crazy list person. I have lists for everything…. I have lists of lists! The most important lists I ever made were things I want to accomplish each day, week and month. Grab a pen and paper and make these three lists. Don’t worry about prioritizing yet. Just get everything out on paper, and make sure you don’t forget anything… from completing that project for your boss, to making sure you carve out time to get caught up on Bob’s Burgers.
Prioritize: Do this HONESTLY with the intention of keeping things equal. For example, your top three things shouldn’t be Bob’s Burgers, taking pictures of your cat, and knitting. Your top three also shouldn’t be do homework, and more homework, and even more homework. You want to accomplish things while not getting burned out. Mix it up, keep it even. Here’s an example of my top five: Yoga practice, work, drum practice, read for teaching training, work on my website/blog. When all of this is accomplished, then I don’t feel that guilt when I engage in things at the bottom of my totem poll (playing the Sims, lol).
Time Management: Once you have a prioritized list, you have to figure out the time that should be allocated to each. Again, be honest and keep things equal. What I do now is I calculate the amount of hours I actually have in each day. For example, if I wake up at 6:45am, I can get to yoga by 7:30am and be done by 9:00ish. Get home by 9:30, and by the time I’ve settled in, showered, and ate breakfast, I can dive into work by 10:15am. If I give myself 5 hours to do work, then I can stop between 3:15-3:45pm to have lunch. Perhaps halfway through my work, at lets say 1:00, I can fit in 20 minutes of drum practice and have a snack. After lunch, I can give myself some downtime and perhaps a half hour to read for TT before I go teach the 6:00pm class. Then I’ll come home, make dinner or maybe eat out with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. Once I am home, I can work on my website for an hour, or maybe engage in something else on my list like watching The Walking Dead (GLEN IS ALIVE GUYS) or see what’s happening on Facebook. Most importantly, I make sure I’m in bed by 11:30pm so that I can start again tomorrow at 6:45am. Believe it or not, I actually have schedules like this in my calendar. Color coded and all. It sounds crazy and perhaps a little neurotic, but it works for me. It gives my schedule, and life, intention, focus and stability.
Patience: This. Takes. Time. A lot of time. I remember when I made my first calendar, I was super stoked and confident that everything was finally going to smooth out and be easy from now on. It was for the first few days, and then suddenly I was back to waking up with anxiety because I couldn’t get my life in order. Give yourself space to be a human being and make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t master it right away. Like with physical balance, let yourself fall and topple over so you can get back up again – make some adjustments if need be. Keep a good attitude. I’ve got a pretty good grip on my schedule, but sometimes it gets away from me. Sometimes I want to get 5 hours of work done but I only do 3. Sometimes I only want to spend 20 minutes practicing the drums, and I end up spending 2 hours because I FINALLY found the score to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. Sometimes I beat myself up about not getting things done. Like right now in this moment, its 1:00 on a Friday and I haven’t practiced or really done too much work, however getting this blog out was a priority so I made sure to make the room for it now so I don’t have to deal with the anxiety later or tomorrow or the next day. All I have to do is refresh my balance, and create the schedule all over again to make things work. Its all good. It all works out, I promise!