As a yoga teacher, I hear a few things time and time again:
- How overwhelmed / tired / stressed / frazzled you are (choose whichever apply to you today!)
- How you know from experience that yoga and mindfulness really help you to manage your overwhelm / tiredness / stress / frazzli-ness – and that you love, love, love it when you do it
But I also hear that despite knowing deep inside that things like yoga really help you, you struggle to even imagine how you would fit it in to your already-overloaded schedule, never mind actually get around to booking a class, getting there, being there and getting home again.
OK, so the first thing to know is this: You are not alone! There are millions of us out there (yes, yoga teachers included) who are frequently ‘too busy to do yoga’.
Second thing: Please don’t beat yourself up about this. Yoga is all about releasing stress and tension from the body, mind and life in general… Not adding more stress in, by giving yourself a hard time because you can’t fit it in.
OK, so now you’re feeling a bit better about yourself, here are my Top Five Easy Ways to Squeeze Yoga into Your Super-Busy Life:
Live yoga, rather than doing yoga
When I was studying to become a teacher, my teacher, Fabio Fabbri, told us that he didn’t do yoga. I was horrified – what did he mean? Surely he was a kind of yoga guru?! He explained that for him, more than just poses, yoga was a way of life. He ‘did’ yoga whilst riding his scooter, taking his daughter to school, cleaning the studio.
How? Well, yoga is so much more than simply the poses. One of the great yoga texts, the Sutras of Patanjali, contains 196 entries about yoga, only three of which are about the postures. Say what? The other 193 are about living with joy, kindness, peace (and a lot more).
So next time you don’t quite make it to class, quit beating up on yourself (we call that ahimsa in yoga), take a deep breath and be kind to yourself. Hey, look you’re doing yoga!
If you’ve been around me a while, you know for sure, I’m all about the breath. Breathing whilst noticing that you’re breathing is doing yoga. Just doing this for a few minutes at a time – any time, any where – and you are doing yoga!
If you want to go to the next step, try a formal breathing practice. You don’t need a yoga mat, or a ton of time. Maybe five or ten minutes. I have a great Breathing for Calm recording available for free on my site – why not give it a go?
Do yoga in the shower
OK let’s be sensible for a minute – don’t go getting all crazy on me in the shower, and ending up with an injury! No, I mean try mountain pose (tadasana) while the water is rinsing the shampoo out of your hair – feel the connection of your feet on the tiles, broaden your chest, grow a little taller through the crown of your head. Maybe lift your arms up with your in-breath, and down with your out-breath. Simple!
Do yoga with your kids
Of course, this one only works if you have kids. I’m finding that more and more kids are doing yoga in pre-school, day care or at primary school. They all know about tree pose and mountain pose (and they know some pretty cool poses that you probably don’t!), and they LOVE doing it! Kids naturally have a short attention span, so doing yoga with them doesn’t feel like it should be lasting for an hour or more. You can squeeze this one in any time you have a couple of minutes just to play with them. Try it and see the benefits for the whole family.
My favourite meditation technique is mindfulness. It’s pretty simple (although also can be really challenging!). All it involves is being mindful of whatever is going on in that moment. It might be your breath, or the washing up, driving, playing with your kids, mowing the lawn, finishing that report.
The great thing about this technique is that when your mind wanders off somewhere else and you stop being mindful of it (it will happen – a lot), when you bring yourself back to being mindful, that’s when you’re really doing the practice. Bringing yourself back to the present moment IS the practice – so the more you wander off and then come back, the more you’re doing mindfulness – and yoga.
I’ll leave you with these reminders:
The best time to practice yoga is when you don’t have time for it.
You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.