This week schools have gone back here in Scotland, and with that there has been a general feeling of rules and routine setting in. We need routine in order to function optimally and rules are a given for the safety of ourselves and others. But in the process of ‘getting back to it,’ I’ve noticed that I’ve been struggling a lot more this week than over the course of the summer.
My sleep hasn’t been great, I’ve been reaching for junk food, my thoughts have been swarming around and I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed by normal life. It’s not just been starting back school this week; I’ve had a trip to the opticians (now I need Reading glasses! Lol!) the vet (just a booster check, he’s fine!) and all of the regular cleaning, food prep and house nonsense to do. I reached the end of the week and realised I hadn’t done anything for myself, other than my 10 minutes morning meditation.
That’s when I asked for help. I knew that if I continued pushing myself I was heading in a direction that would result in feeling much worse. But as I settled into a day of cooking and pottering about doing all the little things that make life a bit smoother, I realised that this very act was a yogic practise itself.
Svadhyaya is one of the Niyamas, part of Patanjali’s 8-limbs of yoga and it is often translated as self-study. On our yoga mats we become very adept at knowing which postures we will struggle with, where our strengths and weaknesses lie, and we get to know ourselves as yoga practitioners quite well. But this idea of self-study translates to our lives off the mat too, and it’s exactly what lead me to taking a break this week.
Over the years I’ve noticed patterns in my health, if I don’t sleep well, I know that I’m headed on a downward spiral towards low mood, migraines and feelings of poor self-esteem. These can be easily supported before they get to the really bad stage, by increasing my meditation time, prioritising sleep and making self-care top of my list.
Sometimes when we start yoga, we are looking for physical progress, achieving postures or getting closer to that illusive bind/inversion/arm balance. But there is a larger element of inner work to be done alongside the physical aspects. The 8-limbs outlined by Patanjali actually help us create a better balance in our lives. We begin to live our yoga on and off the mat, taking the lessons with us into our daily lives and sharing them with others through the examples we set.
I thought I was feeling rubbishy because I wasn’t stepping onto my mat to do my yoga practise, but in reality, the very act of realising I needed to do something differently was a yoga practise. And it was through learning about myself that I was able to make changes to take better care of my mental and physical wellbeing.
Moving onto week two at school, I have a plan and I am being kind to myself with it too! I will be increasing my meditation time to help me feel better focused on the tasks I need and want to complete. I will be journaling more to get the thoughts whirling around my brain out and onto paper (where they won’t be disturbing my sleep.) I’ll be having a small glass of red (cherry juice!) before bed to help me settle, and I’ll be practising some bedtime yin yoga. Oh, I’ll also be adding in a short relaxation session each day, to help me switch off and recharge. All of this will help me feel more in control of my days and prevent those feelings of overwhelm from becoming all consuming.
Do you want to learn how to relax more? Then why not join my upcoming 7-day Savasana Challenge? Over the course of 1 week, we will learn about the benefits of a regular relaxation routine, explore how to switch off and carve out the time needed to switch off, and actively engage in the practise of resting and restoring. Are you in?