Hey everyone, it's Stacy and I'm thrilled to be writing this post. I appreciate the little pockets of "creative outlet" I can find in this whole new normal we're living in.
Let me share a little about myself so you can catch my perspective. I'm a wife, a mom of 3 kids, we have a bunch of little animals at our house (7 chicks, a dog, and a bunny! - and yes, you can come to our urban petting zoo when this is all over!)
We are one of the families impacted by the astounding lay-off statistics which happened to account for 95% of our family's income. We have 2 school aged children and are navigating distance learning for the long haul, our other child is in the medically vulnerable population, and we're just doing our best to live life and be happy and make this whole crazy thing work.
We're happy, worried, soaking in all the family time and utterly exhausted by the end of each day all at once.
On top of that, I'm also trying to make sure I am taking care of myself by doing things that fuel my soul and make my body happy - one of those being Bikram Yoga.
I am no expert... at, well, any of this. I am not a long-seasoned yogi. I am certainly no expert at managing a life and a household during a global pandemic. I mean, is anyone? But I do want to offer a couple ideas that have been extremely helpful in finding peace, balance, and time to practice yoga.
First, let’s chat about peace.
It almost seems like a taboo topic right now. Peace? In the middle of all this?? Isn’t that completely neglecting the reality of the world right now which feels pretty full of unrest? Are you actually being a toxic-positive person?? Yikes. No, definitely not. I don’t know about you - but I cannot just sit and soak in sadness and despair. It’s already here, I don’t have to do anything else to help it exist.
Don’t get me wrong, I could get completely caught up in the endless amount of news floating around, but my peace would suffer. Right now I must keep my peace for my own sake and also for my family’s sake, since we are cooped up together 24/7. So how do you do this when you’re busy and being pulled in a thousand directions from your kids, spouse, life, etc.
You must decide you are deserving and worth it and peace is as essential as water and air to live and thrive and you must must must make it happen.
Finding peace looks different for every single one of us. It could mean dedicated quiet time, exercise, laughing, reading, napping, fresh air, praying, meditating, journaling, painting, creating, the list is endless. Whatever it looks like for you, do it. Do it as often as you can. I'd love to say I carve out pockets of peace every single day, but I don't... I wish!! But I do the majority of the time. And in my life, majority rules.
After peace, I try to create a little balance in our day.
Ah, the great "balancing act." I can’t possibly fit in everything I want and need to do every single day in our busy household, but I can find a sense of balance that makes me feel like I’ve got a (small) sense of control to what’s going on around here.
Even though we are not going out as much, I notice feeling just as busy (if not more) at home! Kid's school work, house projects, Zoom meetings, the endless amounts of cooking and cleaning, getting in some exercise, carving out time for yourself and/or your partner, and each kid, and walking the dog... did I mention cooking and cleaning yet? Don’t forget you need to rest! And and and… am I right? It’s a lot!
And it’s totally ok to feel like it is, because hey: IT IS. I mean, there have been multiple days where I had planned all the things, and then just sat around, re-dried the same load of laundry 3 times and ate snacks all day.
Well, I quickly learned that was not going to work for me, and just as quickly realized balance is possible. Thank goodness, too!
Here’s what works for me, and if you’re struggling to “fit it all in,” maybe this can help you feel less overwhelmed with it all:
1. Make a list of "non-negotiables"
These are things that are absolute musts for yourself and your family. Family dinner, time outside, breakfast together, quiet time… what are they in your life? This list doesn’t have to be long, but I encourage you to evaluate all the things you are busy doing, and pull out those key things that keep your household functioning and moving forward.
2. Set a schedule
Don’t you feel better when you know what is coming next? This schedule doesn’t have to be strict or even down to the minute, but more so a guideline to what and how you will move through your day. A rhythm. The rest, listen closely: IS OPTIONAL. I know… I know! Give yourself, your family, and your day the grace it needs and deserves to be fluid enough to feel good. It's called balance
3. Do yoga
Ahhhhh... yes, the yoga. My brain already feels a sense of calm coming over it just thinking about it. How do I fit this in? Like seriously, I can barely take a 10-minute shower without interruption let alone dedicate 90 whole minutes to myself, inside my house, with all these people and animals.
Before, I could go to the studio, I could shut off all the things, the hot room was a sweet and sweaty escape, I could "hide" away and just... do something for myself. Yoga looks pretty much the opposite of that right now in every way, except that it is still yoga - and it's for me - practiced by me - and the benefits are all mine.
Having to practice at home has uprooted all the "feel good" things I love about yoga and has forced me to a realization that yoga is so valuable to my life, even without all the frills of the studio environment.
Is my space hot? No. It's a little hot with chaos some days. Do I have a mirror? Also, no, not really. Does my toddler mimicking me count? Can I get it humid enough? Not nearly. But sometimes, I have a couple kids or a dog breathing right in front of my face and it feels a little humid... (kidding. not kidding.)
Do I get to focus and meditate completely? Ehh... not entirely. And by entirely, I mean not at all. Am I able to complete an entire 90 minutes, uninterrupted? Negative. I don't even always get a chance to complete 90 minutes at all.
I have learned that in order for me to have a successful home practice, I had to reconstruct what the word "successful" means.
I often practice in the middle of the living room floor, or when it's nice out, I throw a mat down outside. Always, I have a couple kids bopping in and out and lying down next to me, or on me, or trying to crawl through my legs, a dog rolling around on the floor thinking it's playtime, or kids taking their own sweet savasana on top of me while I'm in one too...
The commotion is endless.
But the yoga is timeless.
I've learned to let go of my idealistic perfect yoga experience, and realize that yoga IS the experience.
Some is better than none, and I've had to adjust my mindset from tolerating that, to celebrating that, and remarkably I can say that my body and mind are still reaping the benefits of a "not-so-perfect" yoga practice. My family and I are better for it, and I’m really glad I decided to just get over the fact that yoga is different now, and get to doing it for any amount of time, at any time of day.
The truth is, some of us haven't been in a good habit of practicing yoga since the stay-home orders have been in place. That's ok... kind of. If it's truly just not for you, not important to you, and yoga has not been a positive impact in your life, then sure, it's ok to not be practicing
But some of us need to check our yoga-egos (I know I did) at our own front door.
We need to realize that the benefits of practicing at home, an imperfect practice in a less-than-ideal environment, win out by far over the consequences of not practicing at all.
And here's the good news: it's a practice. This is quite possibly the only time we will be forced to practice peace, balance, and yoga in a world that looks like this, in a home space that exists like this, and in a mindset that feels like this.
I for one am optimistic for my future self - that I will have learned so much during this time in a way that I never would have before. I mean, can you even imagine how good my savasana will be when we get back into the hot room after all this practice with my kids jumping all over me? Ha!
So here's to you, and me, and all of us. Making an attempt for joy in our life, through the practice (and grace!) of peace, balance, and yoga.
See you at Home!
I remember, after mentioning to Kay that I’d lost 40 lbs in just over 100 days, her asking “But it’s more than that, it’s the inner transformation, right?” My response was quick, “Absolutely, I just have no other way to sum it all up!” Later, I've been able to clarify my thoughts:
The weight loss, I decided, was a 'superficial yardstick' for the multitude of positive life changes i was experiencing due to my new yoga practice. Essentially, the real transformation was me getting back to me.
Everything kept falling into place, like a domino effect. I was eating healthier & required less sleep. I soon found I had more energy then I knew what to do with. This means I now find time for personal creative endeavors as well as exploring the natural beauty that is just outside our doors.
These past 6 months of yoga have shown me, and I want to tell you: You Already Are That Better Version Yourself! If your intention is set, nothing can stop you from reaching your goals. Pardon the hippie-dippy sentiment, but I did kinda move here from Santa Cruz, CA ;)
My first class was the sliding-scale donation class on a Thursday night last fall. After reading of the many benefits associated with Bikram, I thought it was something I had to try for myself! I approached with a healthy skepticism, and after giving it test-run realized it was everything I was hoping for and more.
Within a week, I was telling friends it was "the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.” Within a month, the lower back pain I was suffering from had disappeared.
Savasana (aka Dead Body Pose) is still extremely challenging for me. Patience is a life-long lesson. I believe that learning to be still and relax is one of the best things we can do to maintain balance in this fast-paced world in which we live. Look around- we’re all here for the same reason. As we become better versions of ourselves, we’re better able to serve the community around us- what an amazing gift! P.S. Don’t forget to breathe.
Here's a recipe for one of my healthy meals that keeps me hydrated and energized for practicing 4-5 times per week:
Original Hot Yoga Salad
• your favorite greens mix
• low-fat cottage cheese
• roasted sunflower seeds
• kosher dill pickles
• chili flakes (100% *not* optional!)
HHY Founder, Yoga Business Coach, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay Afif!