Someone asked me last weekend why I started practicing yoga and I recalled my first session - I hated it! I re-visited yoga a year later as an avid surfer in the UK, trying to find something to keep me fit and strong during the winter. Something had changed and I found myself loving the physical challenge of the practice. And then slowly I noticed my mind-state changed. One of my colleagues commented that when I had practiced yoga in the morning I was happier at work. In fact the words may have been 'you need to practice yoga every morning before work!' I had found something that helped to balance my naturally fast-paced, competitive and pushy (with myself) nature, without even looking.
Yoga is all about balance. We are often drawn to the things that we relate to, but sometimes this can lead us out of balance. For example, someone who is always busy and needs constant stimulation will likely have hobbies that are also very active and fast moving. However, what they often need is something to slow them down and ground them. So how do we find that balance?
1. 'Know thyself' as the Ancient Greeks used to say. When we know what our tendencies are we are much more able to find ways to counteract them in order to strike a healthy balance. In Ayurveda people are classified as Dosha types, consisting of Vata (wind), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth). Most people are a combination of two or all three but with one more dominant. Ayurveda works to balance the Doshas out - this is definitely something I have brought into my life.
2. Recognise the signs. When we get out of balance we all respond differently. Some people may get tired and snappy, some become hyperactive, some lethargic. Knowing how you respond helps you to know when you need to stop, reassess and bring things back. And most importantly, once you recognise the signs listen to them!
3. Have coping strategies in place. Often when we are out of kilter we don't think or act rationally and it can be difficult to take stock as a result. Having a go-to plan of action for those moments takes the thinking out, helping to get you back on track quicker.
4. Have a self care routine. Looking after yourself on a daily basis can reduce the impact of any imbalance when it does happen. It helps to make sure you don't run yourself into the ground before noticing it because you are constantly taking care, even when you don't 'need' to.
5. Be kind to yourself. When life does get too much it can be easy to then beat ourselves up for allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed. This is a sure fire way into a dark abyss! So, above all, practice kindness!