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My Sabbatical / Self Care

When I announced my sabbatical the first of the year, I half expected lots of people to give me grief. That didn’t happen. In fact, I was deeply moved by all the amazing support I received from students and friends. Thank you! The truth is, although this decision seemed abrupt to many, I had been thinking about it for several years, but the timing never seemed right. I loved my life and my robust teaching schedule. Because of that, I chose to continually push my sabbatical off. But to my surprise, when I woke up New Year’s Day, my decision had already been made. 


For some time I had noticed a deep yearning to take time off but didn’t honor it. I could feel my energy slipping and choose to mask it by visiting all the wonderful things that make my life fulfilling and joyful. A great reminder that even if you love what you do and how you spend your day, it can still be a big responsibility that can eventually wear you down. 


This is where yoga comes in. Over the past year I’ve come to recognize that for me, the true meaning of yoga isrefined awareness. I had been listening, but choose not to act. Waking up that first day of 2020 in January, somehow my internal attention was different. I listened intently and was then able to feel every part of my body, mind, and spirit singing to me “The time is now”. I knew exactly what that meant. My awareness had expanded to a place where I could hear the depth of this crucial message. Even so, I spent much of that day trying to make a list of the pros and cons of taking a sabbatical now. (A list I’ve made many times over the last 2/3 years). In other words, trying to bargain with the timing. But this time was different. Every time I took out my mental pen and paper, the mantra grew in strength. “The time is now”. There was no denying this higher message. 


Tantric yoga philosophy is one that encourages balance and health. Today’s society applauds us for pushing ourselves to the max, the whole ‘more is better’ mentality. It’s so hard not to fall prey to this concept, particularly when it’s everywhere. Making time to rest and restore is crucial to creating mental and physical stability and ease. And it’s in this space where creativity is able to blossom. Creativity keeps us young at heart, inspired, and motivated to be our best. Health comes when we make choices that allow us to be in a state of inherent ease. 


In the last two weeks of teaching before I started my sabbatical, many people said they wished they could do the same. Indeed most people cannot up and leave their job, for a plethora of reasons. And, thereareabsolutely many ways in which choices can be made to support a more balanced life. Getting out of your mind and onto your mat for one. 60 minutes of breathing and moving can change everything, including your attitude and ability to experience more happiness. Whatever your ‘yoga’ practice is……walking, biking, cooking, etc. - recommit and prioritize even just a small sliver of time for yourself, so that you don’t loose yourself in the anxieties of everyday life. The more you can take care of you, the more you can show up for your loved ones. 


Yoga = refined awareness. What are your body, heart and spirit whispering? What do they need to stay balanced and to thrive? Are you ready to take action this time, and put your highest needs first? One way I connect is through meditation. Contrary to popular belief you do not have to sit for an hour every day to receive great benefits. Meditating is one of the most challenging things that I do, still, even after 10 years of daily practice. The one who shows up is the one who triumphs. Would you be willing to sit in silence, with your breath, for just 10 minutes before bed? To synch into your breath and let your day slowly dissolve? When the mind is soft and not cluttered by consistent jutting thoughts, space for balance and ease is offered. This is where you can hear the song of your inner self singing. Are you willing to listen? To make space and allow for creativity to flourish, for joy to emerge? (And, you may just get your best night’s sleep yet).


There’s no better time than the present. You are worth it! You deserve it! This year celebrate yourself by tending to the whisperings of your inner voice that is asking to be heard. This is radical self care,radical self love. Here is the pranayama meditation practice that I use before bed --- Find a comfortable seat using cushions or any props that help your body sit upright with as much ease and support as possible. Rest your hands on your lap face down, connecting your thumb and forefinger as a gesture of grounding. Lift your spine and gently reach through the crown of your head. Lightly activate and deepen your breath. Breathe in to a count of 3, pause and hold your breathe for a count of 3, exhale to a count of 5, hold your breath out for a count of 3. Repeat for 10 to 15 complete rounds. When your mind wanders off, simply redirect your focus and start over. Be patient with yourself and give yourself a chance to truly benefit from this practice. Commit to one day at a time. 


"Surviving is important, thriving is elegant".


With love and gratitude,

Ahna

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