5 Lessons My Yoga Practice Taught Me About Slowing Down
By In Her Shoes Contributor: Christina Rice
I discovered my love of yoga during a particularly difficult time in my life. November 2014. I remember it so vividly. Professionally and personally I was in turmoil and overwhelmed in all aspects of my life. At that moment I was searching for anything, everything to help me release so much of what I was holding inside.
Over the years, I would take a yoga class periodically but one day on a particularly difficult day, I went to class. And something happened. The weight that been holding me down started to lift ever so slightly. Then I went back another day, and another and eventually I started to come back to me, the me I needed to be to create a new space within and start tearing those bricks weighing me down piece by piece.
As an entrepreneur, the daily stresses of running, growing and maintaining a business can take its toll. For women, we carry so many responsibilities as businesswomen, executives, girlfriends, wives, friends, mothers, daughters, and so much more. With all that we carry, we forget that we need to slow down and take care of us first and foremost.
Repeat after me: I know I am no good to anyone, if I am not good to myself.
During stressful moments in our lives, some may turn to a physical activity such as running, kickboxing, spinning, or pilates. Others may turn to their spirituality and pray, meditate or take it to church. I needed both. I needed the physical exertion of yoga but also the spiritual and meditative space it was providing me to stretch and grow myself in all the areas I was struggling with.
In December 2015, I took it another step further and received my certification. I’m also running two businesses simultaneously. Most importantly, I have joy. I’m not sure I would’ve come to this point if I had not turned to yoga. Knowing this, I am passionate about sharing my practice with other women such as myself….executives, business owners, young women, any woman that finds herself in a highly stressful place in life. I want to help them discover something within that will give them the tools to handle life’s obstacles just a little bit better than they were before, to slow down, and show up for themselves before they show up for anyone or anything else.
Here are my 5 lessons on what my yoga practice has taught me:
1. I didn’t find the meaning of life, I just discovered a greater purpose
– I used to think yoga teachers found the meaning of life and that they could just Namaste thru life’s troubles. I think that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to get my certification. I thought life would be all rainbows and sunshine. I was wrong. Even as a teacher, I am still merely human. I still have my days, just now I have something I can turn to that helps me find a deeper connection to myself, to create space where I may be stuck, and breathe, move and meditate thru it to see to the other side. My rainbows and sunshine come from me finding my mat in times I need it the most and the regular maintenance my self requires on a day-to-day basis.
2. Taking care of yourself first is not selfish, it’s self preservation
– This is the mantra I live by. Life (as in people, jobs, responsibilities) will take from you what you allow. It’s simple; you can only find the strength to carry on and carry you thru if you are at your strongest. So for 60 minutes or however long you focus on your practice, it’s ok to shut everything and everyone out while you take care of you.
3. Giving in is not weakness, it’s strength
– This is one of the gems I teach in class. I tell my students that it’s ok to stop in the middle of your practice and take a child’s pose when you’re out of breath, out of control, or you need a moment to reconnect with yourself. You are not in competition with anyone else in the room to hit every pose perfectly, to keep going when you know you can’t. You can come back to your mat at any moment and find your breath, find your control, take that time to reset. Imagine if we carried that philosophy thru our daily lives. It’s ok to say I am not ok.
4. Find power in your most vulnerable moments
– I find that many people are intimidated by yoga. My answer is we all have to start somewhere. When I started taking classes, I was a mess, I didn’t know the poses, my body didn’t move like I wanted it to. Then one day, I reached my toes, or I nailed an inversion I couldn’t do 3 weeks prior. This is why it’s called yoga practice. You don’t have to be perfect, all you have to do is show up. There is power in the journey of discovering your inner yogi and what’s important is the way in which you honor your practice, your breath, your mental health. Then the body follows.
5. A yoga practice doesn’t end when you leave the mat, that is where it truly begins.
– This statement is probably the most important aspect of my journey thru this practice. The care and mindfulness that carries me thru the time I spend practicing on my mat, I notice I carry it thru the rest of my days. There was a time when I was stressed, I would have the worst disposition and it would show all over me. Now I just breathe and smile thru it, knowing that it’s only a matter of time before the tide shifts and I’ll be right back to my joy. That is the gift that yoga has given me.
Christina M. Rice is the Founder/CEO of LuxeLife Media and LuxeLife Adventures, an avid traveler, certified yoga instructor, bookworm, adventure junkie and quintessential dream chaser. She currently resides in New Jersey with offices in New York City.
Social: @cricepr / @luxelifemedia / @luxelifeadventures
Photography Credit: Patrick Neree