Why is it harder to be as kind to ourselves as we are to those we love?
How often do we keep going when we’d advise a loved one to take a break?
How often do we hear our own inner commentary on how we could have done better / looked better / coped better?
Do you say to yourself: I used to be …. Or, I’ll be OK when I ….
All very well in the short term - we can all get lots done when we need to – and sometimes we must. It’s good to have goals, to make improvements. We may, however, get stuck in a cycle of pushing ourselves. We forget how to stop striving.
When I was a busy primary school teacher, I focused on making learning fun and enjoyable for all abilities, happy to go the extra mile. It was a revelation to me when my yoga teacher said that not everything needs 100% effort. I discovered that sometimes what I was doing, was good enough already. The extra mile was unnecessary. Although long ago, that epiphany has always stuck with me! (Thank you, Sue!)
So why do we do it?
Maybe it’s part of our culture – being judged and wanting to succeed? Looking for approval? To know we’ve tried our hardest? I now recognise a niggle of self-doubt; a little lack of self-confidence will cause me to re-visit my perfectionist ways!
So to anyone else who finds this rings true, know that you are good enough already, just as you are. This has been our theme in Yoga this term, studying Santosha – contentment from within – acceptance from within – acceptance of each moment – acceptance of oneself.
Practices to work on to encourage Santosha could include:
Concentration on a strong foundation - standing our ground - balanced with lightness in the upper body – not too much effort. Whilst holding Warrior 1 with a balance of strength and lightness, a whispered or silent “san” on an in breath and “tosha” with the out breath reinforces our aim. Apply this in Mountain posture for a covert Yoga practice – anytime, anywhere.
Space and Time:
Making space and time to allow our bodies and minds to extend, de-compress and release … Using mini yoga sequences learnt in class to practice at home…. Setting aside just 5 – 10 minutes for a short but unhurried Yoga practice could help lead towards greater satisfaction, acceptance - contentment.
With a little more space and time set aside, notice the little things we feel thankful for. When this feels hard, when life is more turbulent, it is especially good to do. Try to list five things daily. Space and time to nurture a sense of gratitude leads us towards acceptance which leads us towards contentment.
Notice when you are tense - where has tension built up?
Notice when you are knocking yourself - doubting yourself, or striving too hard, when it’s all effort and no ease…
And breathe out with an audible sigh, actively letting go of tension, doubts, self-criticism …
You could combine your sigh with a forward bend or with Apanasana.
Ease and Effort:
Balancing the amount of effort put in, with relaxation could hold the golden key that leads to contentment from within. Effort without straining … Relaxation without heaviness. Apply it to your Yoga poses. Apply it throughout your day.
Find out more at one of my weekly classes or ask me about 1:1 Yoga practice, tailored to your needs.
Membership of IYN recognises that whilst my teaching embodies the philosophy of Yoga it demonstrates excellent practical skills, knowledge, safety & care and is rooted in ongoing personal practice.
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