When life gets busy and stressful, I become the laziest yogi in Australia.
Yes, I’m a yoga teacher. Yes, I have spent weeks meditating in silence, and months and months on the mat sweating it out through yoga trainings.
Yes, I have an Instagram account that makes it look like I can hold a handstand. But truthfully, when I am working two jobs and stressed to the eyeballs with overthinking, overdoing and overcommitting, the thing I most need (time on my yoga mat) is the last thing that I prioritise.
When stress enters our lives, we tend to make excuses when it comes to doing things that will make us feel better.
We sleep in as much as we can (because we’re exhausted), we rush more, we become more out of touch with ourselves and we become less connected.
This year, as working two jobs became more overwhelming and time consuming, as my time on the mat dwindled, I began to find that I was being drawn away from the person I aspire to be. I felt my ability to connect with others was suffering, my patience and positivity was declining, and when my husband asked how my day was, there was a lot more, “Don’t ask” than “Great!” being uttered. I found that in all this stress, exhaustion and disconnection, I had completely forgotten to show myself any love or compassion. Once I stopped doing that, acts of love and compassion for my students, friends and family also disappeared .
Something had to give.
That’s when I discovered the following lazy yogi practice. It’s one that we can turn to during our darkest and most stressful days. Best of all, for lazy yogis who may only be prepared to spend a few minutes at the beginning, that’s all this practice really needs.
First things first (and this is the hardest bit): We must make some time and space to step onto our mats.
I have always believed that this is the hardest step for all lazy, busy yogis. But for this practice, we roll out our mat with the comforting knowledge that it’s only for a short time. It doesn’t even have to be a mat.
We can sit on a cushion, on the floor or even on the couch if we must. Heck, we could just lie in bed and do this, but what is most important is that we are quiet, and that we are listening to that little inner voice of ours. Just make some time to hear it (this is usually easier when sitting in a seated meditation pose).
Once, we’re here, we set our intention for the day.
Yep, that’s all. Sounds kind of simple and just a teensy bit clichéd, doesn’t it?
But it works.
I thank my lucky stars that I dragged my lazy butt out of bed that winter morning, midweek, when all of my crazy work thoughts were swirling around through my head, and sat down on my mat (for a change). I closed my eyes, and began to reflect on how I had been acting.
I reflected on words that I was ashamed of saying in moments of tension, and on family members whom I had been brushing aside. A little voice inside said, “Well, how can I benefit others today?”
My quiet inner voice was reminding me that there was no point in dwelling on how caught up I had become in my work and how far away from my true self I had been drawn. It was being proactive and practical (go inner voice!) by saying, “What now?”
That morning, I set myself a simple and achievable intention—nothing too fancy. I didn’t think too far ahead, or try to cover a million things I needed to do or say differently. I just listened to myself and truly checked in with what I wanted to give to the world that day. After all, we make the world a better place by starting with our small communities first, sending love and joy out to the people that we see every day.
I started with a short affirmation, then imagined myself later that day acting out that affirmation with ease. It made such a difference that I made it a regular thing. And if I made an excuse and didn’t do it, it had a negative impact on my whole day.
Over those first weeks I kept thinking, for those few minutes on the mat in the morning, “Why am I really here? What is my life’s purpose? How am I benefitting others?” and daily intentions would flow so easily from these questions.
How often do we really think about what we’re doing?
It can be so easy to switch into autopilot and simply do our job, go about our daily activities, then go to bed. And yet we all have the power to do so much good no matter where we are. We just need to set our intentions so that we can hone in on specific ways of making the world around us a better place, by starting with our communities.
Some of the affirmations that came to me over the weeks were:
“Today I will be a shining light to all that I come into contact with.”
“Today I will nurture my body so that I have the energy for any situation.”
“I am boundless energy.”
“I speak to others kindly, with patience.”
“I radiate gratitude.”
“I am thankful for the opportunity to help others and I do so with ease.”
“Today I will listen to my body and take time to breathe deeply.”
The list is endless, and these are just some personal examples, as all of our own intentions will be completely different, especially as we have completely different lives and purposes. We only need to know that when we begin our day like this —by listening, reflecting, connecting—it makes a difference.
My favourite Indian philosophy teacher once told me that our inner voice is as quiet and as subtle as the most delicate flower. The voice of our mind, by comparison (you know, the loud, thumping thoughts that we can’t turn off no matter what) overtakes the voice of our true selves—our inner voice—almost all the time.
It is only through meditation and quietness that our true self, this inner voice, can have a chance to speak up. And it really, really needs to be heard. If we’re not connecting with our authentic selves, then who are we but a crazy-busy person being led through our lives by a never-ending stampede of thoughts?
Setting an intention for my day, every day, changed my entire outlook.
I had purpose.
I had meaning.
And no matter how frantic life became, my little inner voice came back to me. And yours will too.
Author: Emily Corbett
Image: Hillary Boles/ Flickr
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren