“Inhale love, exhale kindness”
This year I started doing yoga. My friends from the lab all went to this by donation class, and convinced me to go. It was hard, I felt like it was impossible for me to bend certain ways, and I was sore for days after the class. And yet I kept going back! Not consistently at first, but by summer time I’ve decided I wanted to make it into a routine. I still felt the donation class was too advanced for me, so I got a new student pass at a studio and started going regularly to beginner classes. And over time postures got easier, the flows a bit smoother and I felt amazing after each class. Now between my studio, my donation class and free classes I’m doing on average 3 classes a week. And some home practice too. And I feel so at peace with myself.
In one of my classes the teacher was talking to us about intent, and how you should set one when you practice. Our intent for that class was the above: Inhale love, exhale kindness. And it hit me, kindness. Kindness has always played a big part in my life, and it’s been something I’ve aspired to. It’s been very linked to how I define myself and what I seek out in other people. But, although I’ve always been kind to other people, I’ve not always been kind to myself.
And I’ve said before I have a type A personality. I tend to push the limits. I’ve run in -15C, ignoring the fact that I was completely uncomfortable. I’ve been to work sick when I should have been in bed resting. Or stayed home, but instead of resting I was still working on my computer. I’ve gone back to work without being completely healed, just to relapse in a couple of days. I’ve taken on more than I can handle. Or overbooked myself with social activities. I’ve pushed myself in classes over the point where it hurts. The list goes on!
Ever since that class, my intent for when I’m on the mat practicing has been just one: kindness. If a pose feels too hard and I’m catching my breath, I take rest and breathe. If I try a more advanced pose and it doesn’t work, I go back to the original pose without judging myself on it. If I get home exhausted, instead of going to class I rest, and if I have enough strength after resting, I do a gentler home practice.
And amazingly, that has been slowing transposing to my other areas of my life. I’m taking time off when I’m sick. I’m not doing all possible social activities just for the sake of doing them. I’m not going out if I feel too tired. I’m asking for help when I need it and delegating what I don’t have time to do on my own.
It’s still a work in progress, and I still put myself to higher standards than anyone else. But I’m learning to be kinder to myself. And it feels really good.