Yoga is about self-acceptance and self-love. As I have mentioned in my previous blog post about self-acceptance, it is very important to love and accept yourself the way you are right now. A Yoga sutra by Patanjali teaches us that rather than fixating on our goals, or end results, yoga is more concerned with the journey. That concept provides direct link to mindfulness; to being in the moment and being present for every step of the way. Patanjali calls it Santosha: contentment (Yoga Sutra 2.42).
There is a saying that goes “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first”. To me this means if you don't first love yourself, and fill yourself with positivity, then how can you possibly serve others? How can you love someone else if you can’t love yourself? How can you serve others if you can’t take care of yourself? I have been thinking about self-love and self-care a lot lately. Soon after I completed my yoga teacher training, working as a fitness professional became my sole source of income. I teach about 10 classes per week, work at a studio, and ride my bike all over town. I soon realized that I really had to make more time for myself, otherwise I would have soon be burned out, I would have exhausted my body. How could I teach yoga to others if I couldn’t even take care of myself? These thoughts have inspired this blog post. Below are 10 ways I fill up my cup. Whether you are a fitness instructor, or just lead a very busy life, I believe these tips are applicable.
Prioritize your sleep to make sure you get what you need. For me it is about 8 hours, everyone has there own optimum. Sleep is easily neglected on our priority list, yet it makes a big difference in how well you function during the day. Because my job is physically demanding, sleep is at the top my list. If I don't sleep well, I will not be able to teach well.
2. My practice
Once I started teaching, it became difficult to find time for my own practice. Not only was it hard to keep up with my home-practice, but it was hard to find time to go take yoga classes outside of working. BUT it is SOOO important. All of my yoga teacher friends told me how crucial it was to keep up with my own practice, but now I can really appreciate their advice. I need to be constantly growing, learning, and improving as a teacher, and that requires me to teach more, but also not to neglect my own practice. My goal now is to attend one yoga class a week for myself. Not for others, purely for ‘me’. For me to fully immerse myself, fully be present at the class as a ‘student’ not as a ‘teacher’. This will only make me a better teacher, a better yogini, and more balanced and healthier person as a whole. Even if you are not a yogi, or fitness instructor, just polish your trade by practicing your skills. Make time to do it for yourself, not for others.
Keep learning!! Not only by practicing physical asanas, but by reading books, listening to podcasts, attending talks, workshops, trainings, etc. It does not have to solely be about yoga (or your trade), but learning about any new subject, it could be anything! I am currently reading a book called “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. It has nothing to do with yoga but I am learning a lot about growing up multicultural, and it keeps my mind fresh and active. I also try to read something related to yoga at least once a week. It could be an online article, rereading my teacher training manuals, yoga magazine, or listening to yoga podcasts (my personal favorites are Yoga Talk Show by Lucas Rockwood and Yogaland by Andrea Ferretti). Don't ever stop learning.
Reward yourself with something nice once a week. Maybe put on a face-mask while you take a bubble bath. Get your eyebrows done, or buy something for yourself that you’ve been eyeing, or take yourself out on a coffee & dessert date. It can be as small as making time to read that book you love or as big as going to get that fancy full-body massage you’ve being dying for.
5. Nourish yourself
Eat well and nourish your body. Eat a lot of whole food, especially vegetables and fruit. Be mindful about what you consume. You are what you eat.
I say ‘meditate’ here but it doesn't have to be meditation. It can be praying, you can journal everyday, you can practice gratitude, it can be anything to feed your mind and soul with positivity. A little time for our mind to slow down to find stillness. Whatever method that works for you. I have been meditating every day for at least10 minutes. I always tried to meditate everyday but it was so easy for me to come up with excuses not to. So with help of my sisters, we teamed up and started being accountable of each other’s daily meditation. I started meditating everyday consecutively, and I plan to stick with it. Right now my goal is 100 days of consecutive 10 minutes meditation a day. I will keep you all updated on my progress J
7. Serve others
Do something for others. It could be simple as opening door for someone or volunteering couple hours a week/month at a local organization. Or utilizing your skills to benefit others without expectation of anything in return. My goal is to offer free yoga once a month. With more experience and knowledge I eventually would love to offer yoga classes for at-risk communities.
Exercise is a great way to fill up your cup. If you have a job where you are sitting most of the day, try to plan something active through out your week. It could be walking around your block, biking, planning a hike on the weekend, or joining a local yoga studio! No time for exercise? Maybe next time you use an elevator or escalator, choose stairs instead, park your car further away from your grocery store entrance, walk or bike to work or friend’s house, stretch first thing in the morning when you wake up, or maybe while your are waiting for pot of water to boil for your coffee or tea.
Communicate and verbalize your beautiful thoughts. Simple as saying ‘thank you’ or ‘I love you’ to your family and significant other. Or tell someone something nice about them other than his or her looks or outfits. Email, write a letter, postcard, or phone someone who lives far away just to say hi. Don’t assume people already know, you have to communicate these thoughtful words so you would never regret something unsaid. You never know, that one little comment you have told someone could make his or her day.
10. Feel beautiful inside and out
You are beautiful. Feel it from inside and out. Wear that beautiful dress for no special occasion, smile at yourself in the mirror, maybe wear that sexy lipstick while you are cooking alone, dance in the living room, do what makes you feel beautiful. You feel beautiful in the inside by feeding yourself positive thoughts, feeding your soul positive energy, and you would feel beautiful inside and out.
Fill up your cup, until it is overflowing, let it spill all over, once your cup is full, then fill up other cups around you.