Yesterday, I taught a yoga class at noon. The room was warm, mats were laid out in a random pattern on the floor, people started to settle in. I had burned some palo santo, so there was a woody, somewhat sensual smell that wafted through the room. I was creating a sacred space for these yogis to breathe, pray, lay it all down. As I watched them settling down on their mats, I was filled with a deep feeling of respect for their presence in that room.
For me, getting to yoga (or any physical workout) is the hardest part. There are so many obstacles that get in the way of me taking care of myself. I'm pretty good at internal justification, so I can find just about any reason to avoid my own self care needs. Oh! Look! The cat is coughing and needs my help. My family needs me to stay home and just be present. I have laundry to finish. Not to mention the work I have to complete. There is always work to do. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
As I looked around the room, I realized that 38 people made it a priority in their lives to come to my class. 38 people made room in their lives to take care of themselves for one hour. In the middle of the day. I was overcome with deep, deep reverence. How inspiring they all were.
It always makes me remember that in order to take care of yourself in this life, you need to show up for yourself.
You have to show up to move forward in life, to make progress, to feel like you are driving the bus that is your own life. When it comes to self-care, this is even more important.
No one else can do it for you.
Trust me, if it was possible to have someone else do your own self-care, there would be a whole industry of go-getters who would show up for those of us who are dragging ass. However, that is not the case. In order to really take care of ourselves, we need to make time for ourselves. We need to show up in places that make us feel whole, that make us feel good about ourselves, that support our personal goals in life. Whether this is a walk in nature, a yoga class, a warm bath, curling up with a good book, or a boot camp style workout, the biggest challenge is starting. The wisdom I want to share is that there are NO SHORTCUTS. I have tried all the ways to avoid taking care of myself, and it always comes back to the same sense of disappointment and frustration.
I am currently coming out of a long streak of not showing up for myself. I had a brutal year in 2017, filled with injury and illness, two steps forward and three steps back. I had knee surgery, cancer surgery, a crazy eye infection that made me feel like I had no immune system.
I was mad at my body for being vulnerable and "failing" me. I felt like if I moved my body in any way, I might break it again, and that would be another set back that I couldn't afford. I stopped my more vigorous yoga practice, I napped a whole lot more, I stopped doing the things that my body needs me to do to feel whole. I was racked with fear and anxiety about moving my own body. In the fight, flight and freeze of my mind, I definitely preferred to freeze.
However, today I am showing up. I am going to a two-hour yoga and meditation workshop designed for self-care. Taught by two of my own students, who have grown into beautiful teachers and mentors. I am nervous and excited and know that it is the right thing to do. One small step towards being there for myself.
Working with people who are making changes in their lives is one of the best parts of being a coach and teacher. What i have learned from those I work with is that it is the small things, the tiny steps towards what makes us feel good that matter. It's not about grand gestures and expensive retreats, it's about making it to the 6am exercise class, or driving 30 minutes to take that beautiful yoga class, walking the dog when it's 10 degrees below zero. It's about prioritizing small things each and every day that make you feel like you are grounded, centered, and moving yourself forward with love.
It's hard to show up. It's challenging to face all the excuses that live in your head and say "not today...I'm going to yoga." However, when we do this, we begin to fill up our tank with self-love and appreciation. We put money in our personal self-care bank account, so that we have energy for other people. We need to put our own oxygen masks on first.
Once you show up, all sorts of things may happen. You may have a great workout, a great class, a great workshop. Or you might sob through the entire experience. It doesn't matter. The work of getting there was done.
You did the hardest part, showing up.
Self-care isn't a cheesy new age thing (although I will admit that when I hear people like me talking about self-care, sometimes I want to punch them in the face. That's normal right? You might be feeling that way about this very post!). No matter how you slice it, self-care is absolutely essential for being present and productive in our own lives. All of the most successful people in life that i know make time for themselves a priority. When we give, give, give, give to those around us and never fill ourselves up, we get sick, tired, and resentful. Yuck.
What small step can you take today towards your own self care? What obstacle can you crush? Find the smallest, tiniest step and take it. Trust me, it will feel freaking amazing.
(and I'd really like to hear about your small steps.....you never know, you may even inspire someone else to take THEIR small step...)