The holiday season is the perfect time to remember how important it is to set and honor boundaries. Initially when I heard the word boundary, I immediately thought of a word that meant restriction and limitation. This felt too tight and rigid to me, so I placed that word in the ‘negative’ category. My years have been spent trying to work toward things in life that created balance and joy, not confinement. Through my yoga practice and the utilization of specific alignment techniques, I began to recognize how creating boundaries led to a greater sense of expansion and my ideas around it quickly began to shift.
As a self-proclaimed Type A person, it’s always been easy for me to lose focus and end up wandering in too many directions, mentally and physically. I noticed that if I set a framework for my practice and followed it faithfully, I felt centered and in balance afterwards. At first I was a bit surprised because I like to believe that the best results come from living in the moment. And while there are certainly many benefits to that, I discovered that following an organized plan turned out to be the thing that left me feeling the most amount of happiness. Epiphany - the boundaries were exactly what lead me to freedom. Freedom from pain in my body and freedom from anguish in my mind and heart. I began to realize that creating boundaries in all areas of my life provided these same incredible benefits. And so, I began... to organize, set guidelines, lay the groundwork… I began to say ‘NO’. This was a big one for me. I was raised to always be the good little girl and not create waves. This generated great dis-ease for me. I wasn’t honoring me and what I needed.
Many years ago I read an article from a female celebrity who said, “I was 40 before I learned that NO was a complete sentence.” Reading this was very powerful for me and had a huge impact on my life. I started to allow myself to say NO and wow! This was incredibly freeing. Some areas where I say no are: to Facebook time – I got totally sucked in and often ended up getting annoyed by people’s posts and this created mental disharmony (I only allow myself a specific and limited amount of time each day to scroll); I turned off the ‘new email’ alert so I didn’t need to stop whatever I was doing just to see who was emailing me because heaven forbid I miss out on some news or something (I set aside specific times each day to attend to my email); set a time limit for my yoga practice – I love yoga and would regularly stay on my mat for over 2 hours, often only to feel exhausted and achy the next day. Now my practice is 45 - 90 minutes tops, and I feel totally balanced in my body and mind; that second cup of coffee – we all know where too much caffeine can lead, nowhere good; I started to say no to things that would over extend my daily time allowances so that I wasn’t constantly running from one commitment to the next. Feeling rushed is never supportive of living a balanced life. I invite you to take a few minutes and explore where you need to set stronger boundaries in your life. So many of us are completely overcommitted and left feeling depleted. Perhaps you need to say no to a few extra holiday parties this year. No to that second or third glass of wine. No to that second plate of heavy, yet ever-so-tasty holiday food. (It’s never nice to wake up feeling crappy from too much partying) No to buying too many Christmas gifts. Don’t we all have enough already!? And think of the freedom from anxiety you’ll experience from less credit card debt. No to that co-worker or person in your life who consistently takes advantage of the fact that you can’t say no to them. When you do overextend yourself or can’t say no to something or someone, pause…tune in and notice how this makes you feel. Observe how this affects your body physically, how you feel mentally, and how it makes your heart feel. Then, without harsh criticism and judgment, make a pact to do better next time. Life is a journey and takes lots of practice. So be kind to yourself and offer yourself compassion. Yoga is the invitation to find, to create balance in life. When you experience balance, you experience freedom. It is the boundaries that you set in your life that lead you to living a life of joy and freedom. And you deserve that! When you say no to someone else you are saying yes to you. If you are afraid to say no because you don’t want to disappoint someone, you end up only disappointing yourself and breaking your own heart. Set your boundaries, say yes to yourself, and step into the path of harmony, joy and freedom.