When did yoga become like chocolate cake?

Just the other day I wrote a post, On being grateful. In that post I wrote about showing gratitude to others, and how it’s not only something you should do for others, but something that can have a lasting impact on your personal wellbeing.

But since writing that post I can’t help but notice how people are sometimes very gracious and giving to others, YET so tough and hard on themselves. It’s so easy to smile and be happy when someone else is blue, but it’s nearly impossible when we have to do the same for ourselves. Somewhere along the line we’ve lost the understanding that being good to ourselves can actually translate into being good to others.

Just the other day I overheard a woman in the locker room talking about how hard she’s been working and how crazy things have been at work. She was excited because she was going to treat herself to yoga. TREAT herself to yoga? Since when did yoga become a treat rather than a prerequisite for living a healthy life?

She’s not alone, I started to realize I hear this more often than not; I even do this to myself. Somewhere along the way our minds have played a dirty trick on us. We’ve conditioned ourselves to think that because we have people relying on us at home and at work those things and people take priority over us, over our own personal physical, mental and emotional health.

All to often it’s easier to take care of others rather than fulfill our own needs, wants and desires. We seem to think it’s a form of selfishness rather than selflessness.

On an airplane we’re required to help ourselves with the oxygen mask before helping others. There’s a reason for this. If you lack oxygen your brain can’t function and you therefore won’t be able to help anyone. And it’s not considered selfish for this very reason. Why don’t we apply this same philosophy to our everyday lives?

Yes, taking care of our families, excelling at work, volunteering to help those less fortunate can all be extremely rewarding. Honestly, more often than not it’s quite a bit easier to prioritize others over ourselves because somehow their needs feel more immediate, or more important, than our own.

But what if we were able to do all of that at our most optimal level of health? Would we be happier? Stronger? Faster? Smarter? More energetic? I would venture to guess, probably. Focusing all of our attention on others can be exhausting, we can’t give to others unless we refuel, re-energize and start from a place of strength.

You’re probably thinking, “Easier said than done! How am I ever going to fit everything in, I need a 30 hour day!”

One of the things I teach in my stress reduction training is called the “NPRs of Stressing Less”. The “P” stands for several different concepts, but one of the requirements to stressing less is PRIORITIZE. More often than not we fail to truly prioritize; our minds trick us into thinking everything is a priority. As a result we fail miserably at prioritizing what’s actually most important, ourselves, because there’s so much else competing for our attention. You have to get it out, get it on paper. Then you can see the true priorities.

  1. List out all of the things you’d like to do for yourself. What are all the things that you want to do to make yourself healthier, and ultimately happier? What are those things you consider to be a treat but are probably necessary?
  2. Determine which of those things is absolutely necessary for your health and wellbeing. I like to think of them as my nonnegotiables. These nonnegotiables are those activities, behaviors or things that are so important you would do whatever it takes to make sure you include them in your day, week or month. Some people can’t live without exercise, for others it’s eating organic, but for others finding 5 minutes to be quiet and still their mind in meditation is all they need. It can even be as restorative as getting a massage once a month.
  3. Of your nonnegotiables pick the ONE to TWO absolutely, most important activities for YOU.
  4. Now think of these as your babies – literally. These are your babies that without your attention, your care, your unwavering commitment, they will literally die.
  5. Next, schedule these items as a PERMANENT “meeting” on your calendar. If you had a daily doctor’s appointment you’d figure out how to make that happen, treat your nonnegotiable in the same way.
  6. Examine your budget for ways you can scrape together the funds, if necessary. Most of the time if we’re simply committed to taking our lunch to work three days a week, or skipping the morning Starbucks run, we can scrape together $60-$120. Again, if you all of a sudden became a diabetic and had to spend $100 on your medication, you’d figure out how to make it happen.
  7. Finally, let those who will be impacted know that time on your calendar is non-negotiable. If the time you’ve selected seems to be an issue, then work to find another time that will work for both of you.

For me, my nonnegotiables are working out and buying my groceries at the natural food market. This required changing eating habits from eating out five nights a week, to cooking five nights a week – that was a HUGE savings. And, I have my workouts written in my calendar in bright “red” as a signal to stop if I even think about scheduling something at that time.

Does this take commitment and a few adjustments in your lifestyle? Probably.

Does it take work? Absolutely!

Is it necessary? Only you can decide.

The important thing to remember is that yoga, a massage, meditation, eating the most nutritious and healthy foods shouldn’t be negotiable. These things are not luxuries or special treats; they are the necessary maintenance tool required to keep your body running at optimal performance, for now and many years to come.

How will you show YOU you’re grateful?

Peace, Love & Happiness – Mel


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I want to find my calm

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One Comment on “When did yoga become like chocolate cake?”

  1. February 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    Haha I’ll tell you something, in my pre-baby life I would have easily said yoga was a requirement. Now it has turned into a treat. And I didn’t see that as necessarily a bad thing until I read your reasoning here. Motherhood also, by the way, has included a lot more chocolate than I used to eat. Go figure.

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