How would you describe taking time for yourself? And is it something you do regularly as a priority?
A regular student told me that the yin yoga class she attends is the highlight of her week. But, she felt it was very indulgent to spend this one hour on herself. I was surprised she described it this way! If you use the actual definition of indulge – to allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of something desired – then yes, yoga can be seen as indulgent. But it carries the connotation of being excessive, as though we shouldn’t perhaps be doing it or spending as much time, money and focus on ourselves. If we described a massage as indulgent rather than remedial, it sounds more expensive and luxurious. Just like an indulgent holiday – we could imagine giving into all the excessive pleasures we wouldn’t allow for ourselves back home in our everyday lives. But an indulgent yoga practice?
It made me think about the way we speak to ourselves, reflect upon the choice of words we use and how we prioritise and spend our time. Our society is focussed on achieving results and doing. Being is viewed as not essential. When taking time for ourselves is not viewed as essential but a luxury, it can easily be pushed aside, or slips to bottom of the never ending “to-do” list.
All the things that take up our focus and energy – the job, partner, family, cooking and cleaning, responsibilities – all the things we strive to do and support, are all at risk of collapsing into a heap when we don’t take care of ourselves. If we give out continuously and stay in the "on mode", when do we actually replenish ourselves – on a cellular level through to emotional and mental levels? Taking time for ourselves to simply be silent helps us tap into deep energy resources that restore our systems on all these levels. We cannot tap into those pools of peace if we don’t stop the doing and move into a quiet still way of being – even if that is only for an hour a week.
For me, I describe my yoga practice as essential, a vital part of who I am and how I live my life. My morning practice is equally important as good food and sleeping well. It maintains my wellbeing and allows me to fill myself up to continue to give, love and support those around me.
Next time you take some time for yourself, something that truly nourishes your health, fills your heart and supports your happiness, then rejoice in that. Shift your thinking. Let that override any thoughts of indulgence, guilt, excess and know you are moving toward living a calmer, more balanced life.