Self-preservation

On day one of my teacher training program, Ann told us that personal boundaries are important and apply to both teachers and students. She went further to explain that energy exchange can be a powerful thing, and it’s important to protect ourselves, as teachers, from allowing too much of our energy to be drained at any given time. It was an easy enough concept to comprehend at the time, but I’ve grown to expand my mind on this subject. Sure it definitely applies inside the yoga room when I am teaching, but it has far deeper meaning outside.

As teachers, as yogis, as women, as mothers, we give so much of ourselves to others. It’s vital to identify ways we can conserve and hold on to a bit of that energy. That’s where yoga has played such an important role for me personally. Maybe it isn’t yoga for everyone, but find that passion, that activity that can rejuvenate you. First loving, caring and protecting ourselves from harm is the only way we can do so for others in our lives.

This ideal calls to mind the yoga posture savasana, or “corpse” pose. I’ve referred to savasana in other posts on letting go and surrendering, but there are many other useful benefits which come from finding a peaceful resting pose. In the bikram series, we rest in savasana for about two minutes between the standing and the floor series, and then take another savasana for much shorter periods of time between all of our floor sets and postures. One reference I make to students is that this posture is meant to be a fueling station for the body, an opportunity to refuel, rest, recharge before taking on the next pose. So with regard to today’s post, savasana is really a microcosm for what we must find off of our mats…that chance to recharge the batteries, reenergize ourselves for whatever lies ahead.

As a mom to three school-age children, this time of year is always met with mixed emotions…a break from dragging tired kids out of bed, packing lunches and ushering them to and from extra-curricular activities, but at the same time there is a slight panic that sets in when I realize that I will no longer have the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for myself. The last couple of years, since all three girls have been in school full-time, I’ve cherished the last few weeks of school and made sure to carve out time for myself to enjoy the world around me, rather than get sucked into the daily minutia of managing a household.

When I am able (and weather permits!), I head down to the beach…to read, to write, to practice yoga…or simply to find peace and calm. Much like my yoga practice has served me, I use this time as a healthy escape. Yoga on the beach is especially calming as I can so easily channel the sound of the ocean with my breath, timing the inhales and exhales with the ebb and flow of the tide. Using your “ujayi” or “victorious” breath, which refers to that which can be felt in the back of the throat and heard like an ocean sound in the ears, is proven to be calming to the central nervous system. So what better place to utilize this yoga gift than when I am literally oceanside?!

While practicing on the beach one day last week I looked out to the ocean to see a friend on her paddle board, and at the precise moment that I looked up a huge pod of dolphins was passing her. It was a really cool sight that caught the attention of everyone on the beach. When she got out of the water, we spoke and she described her encounter as “a gift.” It was a gift to me to witness, I can only imagine how she felt to experience it. I’m sure I can speak for both of us when I say that moment at the beach had far greater value than staying home to fold laundry or going to the grocery store.

I’m grateful to be able to recognize this, as it is all too easy to be consumed with our service to others. Allowing that service to take over, without replenishing or respecting the level of our own energy store, can potentially breed unhappiness or worse, resentment. There are always things to pull us in various directions, things to easily distract us. Whether it is actively pursuing something that makes your heart sing-just for you-or simply adopting the mindset that you will embrace and focus on the positive things in life as opposed to the negative, find a way to establish and preserve your personal boundaries. Learn to enable your energy to serve your needs first. Only then can you best serve others.


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