Hello, and welcome to Compassion As My Compass, a weekly podcast all about living yoga off the mat. I’m your host, Ariel Zachow. Each week we cover a new topic and discuss what small easily implemented things you can do to follow a yogi lifestyle after your physical practice has ended.
Let’s jump right into this week’s topic. I want to talk about finding time or struggling with the balance of having what you need to have for your perfect practice, or your perfect self care routine. And I think it’s worth saying that when I say practice, typically when you are talking in a yoga setting, when you hear the word ‘practice’ , it means your physical yoga practice. And I just want to clarify that when I say that, I mean your entire self care routine. So that could be anything and it’s different for everyone. So it could be things like a physical yoga practice, meditation, breathing, you know, taking time for yourself, going to the gym, going to group fitness or personal trainer- whatever it is that you do to recharge and to feel good. That’s your self care routine or your practice. So just keep that in your mind as we go forward.
I am noticing more and more that this is a topic that comes up quite often with me in my life and with my clients, that we live very much in an all-or-nothing society. And while there are benefits to that, I think somewhere there must be benefits of that, there’s also a lot of danger in that, too. And that’s what we’re going to talk about this week: how do you find the balance of not going too hard and going so crazy about having the perfect practice, but also not going too easy and thinking, ‘Well, if I can’t do it perfectly, you know, I’m not going to do it at all.’
I’m gonna give you two examples, and hopefully they’ll help to give an idea of where you fall on this sort of roadmap of these two extremes. So the first is myself. I had some major burnout over the winter, and you know that the winters are- I don’t like winter. I don’t cope well, and when I get into this burnout phase, rather than looking at my schedule and looking at my self care practice, or whatever you want to call it- instead of looking at it and picking a couple of things that are doable for me, I pick nothing at all. Which is the wrong thing to do.
So that is one extreme of this situation. Looking at where you are versus where you want to be, and knowing all the things that have to happen in between, and saying, ‘You know what, I can’t do all of these things, there’s too many, I’m too stressed out, there’s no time, I’m going to do none of them.’
So there’s one end. And the other is this good friend of mine, I adore this person. They’re super motivated, they’re very much a go getter, and they have amazing qualities. This is a really good person. So before I start to talk bad about their routine, I want them to know, I’m sorry but I’m going to use you as an example.
This person does not sleep often, they don’t sleep well. And they’re up very, very early, and they’re in the gym for very long hours, and then they’re right to work, and they’re working, you know, 16 hour days, and they’re raising a kid and, they’re balancing 4 million things.
So on these two extremes, you have somebody who’s looking at their schedule and feeling so overwhelmed that they do nothing at all. And then you have another person who has a very strong personality who says ‘no, I can totally get all of these things done. It’s no big deal.’ But my concern for that person is that there’s burnout ahead, potentially, and your body will start to shut down.
And trust me, they’ve heard me give this lecture to them 10,000 times, so they know how I feel. Neither of these things are good.
One is not necessarily better or worse than the other. But I think it would be helpful for you to see where you fall on this spectrum of not enough and too much.
But it’s difficult, right? When you have a million tasks to do in a day, and everybody does, how do you find the time to do the self care routine that you need to do so that you can be the best person that you can be, and you can be the best mom to your kids or wife to your husband or teacher or co-worker.
Whatever you are, whatever you call yourself, or whoever you are to the people in your life, you have to be taking the time to really, really take care of yourself so that you can be the best whatever to everybody else. The struggle is finding the balance. And that is true I think in every aspect of your life. How do you find the balance of all of these things?
And it’s not easy, and there’s no cookie cutter answer, which I think can be very overwhelming for people because you can go to a professional or 1000 professionals and no one’s going to be able to tell you what works for you. It’s up to you to figure out what that is. And that can be really, really daunting.
Again, me as an example, instead of sitting and figuring it out, I just said, ‘No, it’s fine. I’ll figure it out later.’ And that’s not the right thing to do. So let’s talk about a couple of things that you can do to start to find your perfect balance for your self care routine. And then over time, you can perfect this routine, but know going in that there’s gonna be some trial and error.
Now, that can be really frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be, because the end goal of this is really important. It’s being healthy and happy and feeling good and living sustainably. Not sitting and thinking, You know, one day, this is all going to figure itself out and I’ll be fine.’ Or being the person who says, ‘No, give me 500 more tasks because I’m a beast, and I can totally take them all.’ And then setting yourself up to hit a wall.
Doing a self care practice in little windows of time is something that we’ll talk a lot about on this show. It’s an underutilized skill. I think everybody finds themselves a couple of times a day with a little pocket of time. And I think most people will grab for their phone or they’ll flip on the TV, they’ll scroll Instagram or Facebook or whatever it is, and if you find that that’s part of your self care routine, that’s fine, and you can do those things in your little pockets of time.
But I recommend taking these little pockets and thinking, ‘oh, I’ve got 10 minutes. Let me sit down and do a three minute meditation and then scroll Facebook. Or I’m home for a minute, I’m waiting for the water to boil for dinner, let me do like three sun salutations or a couple jumping jacks just to get my body moving and then get back to to whatever task I have.’ It doesn’t have to be a 90 minute practice five times a week.
It doesn’t have to be that if all you have time for in one day is 10 jumping jacks, and that’s what makes you feel better. If physical movement and working out is your thing and all you have is 10 minutes, do a couple jumping jacks.
A style of cardio that happens in a very short period of time is called Tabata. It’s 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, typically for four minutes. So look up a Tabata routine or make your own. It’s just working really hard for 20 seconds, then resting for 10. And doing that for a total of four minutes. That’s Tabata. It’s very effective, and if you do it right, and if you push really hard, that’s a full workout in four minutes.
So you don’t have to look at your schedule and say, ‘Well, I have, you know, 10 minutes until I have to leave for work, let me just look at Facebook.’ Instead, take four of those 10 and do something to move your body to make you feel good. And it’s going to give you either a good start to your day or a nice solid reset in the middle of your day. And all it takes is four minutes.
But find what it is for you.
I hate cardio, let me tell you. But if I have 10 minutes, I’ll sit down and put on some music or a song that I really like and use that as a mini meditation for myself. So like all of these other parts of your self care routine, it doesn’t have to be a “full out” version of something.
It doesn’t have to be an entire 60 or 90 minute workout, or 30 minutes of meditation, it can be one minute. Maybe that’s all it takes. And maybe you have the opportunity to find one to five minutes 15 times a day, they just don’t happen to line up together. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have time. That’s it, you just need a little window and you just need to use it effectively.
Maybe you have a little bit more time, maybe you’ve got like 30 minutes. And the option is, again, watching TV, killing some time on Facebook or Instagram. You don’t have to have the thought, ‘well, it’s only 30 minutes, I don’t have time for a full workout.’ Find a 20 minute workout, sit down and find a guided meditation that last 10-15 minutes.
You can allow yourself time to indulge your guilty party pleasures of TV or whatever it is for you, but also be building on this self self care routine in these little pockets of time. So my advice is to take a look at what you love to do to recharge for your practice for your self care, and find mini versions of it that you can fit into your day.
And if you wake up knowing that, ‘Okay, great, when I have five minutes, I have a five minute guided meditation that I can do anywhere. So when I find that I’ve got five minutes, I’m just going to hit play.’ So if you have a plan going in, then you’re set up and you’re ready to go. But don’t find yourself with 30 minutes and think, ‘Oh man, I should totally find a workout. But, you know, Susie’s posted her vacation pictures on Instagram, and I want to stalk them.’
Go in with a plan so that when you find yourself in your little window of time, you have something to do other than kill time, and not be helping yourself. So that’s your first food for thought for this week.
The next is to know that your routine can change. It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day in every situation. So maybe on Wednesdays you have two hours free, typically, and you don’t really know what to do with it. You want a little routine in your life, but it only happens that one day a week. Find something that’s comfortable for you that makes you happy in that one day a week.
It doesn’t have to be seven days a week, or five days a week or whatever. If you have this window, find a personal trainer or find a group fitness class or get a buddy to go with you to the gym. Something to help you fill this time in a way that you know is going to be beneficial for you and your practice your self care.
And knowing that it’s going to be different day to day can be really helpful. Don’t set in stone what you think your self care routine needs to be. Allow it to be flexible. If you know that on one day you have no free time, then maybe you skip that day. Well, I don’t want to say skip it because self care is really important. But if you, on some days, have more time than others, you can do different things.
Keep it interesting. Change it up. Have a bunch of things that you love to do. Know how much time they’re going to take so that when you wake up on Tuesday, you can say, ‘oh, I can do my yoga class at the Y today.’ Before you go out you can say, ‘it’s Friday night. I have 10 minutes between when I’m finished getting ready and when I have to leave, so let me sit down and do a little meditation before I go out.’
It doesn’t have to be the same on every day. Allow it to be flexible. Allow it to change with your schedule, and with your needs. What you need for your self care routine is not always going to be the same. Maybe some weeks you need more meditation. Some weeks you need a little more physicality. Find what works for you and allow it to change as your life is changing.
Another recommendation that I have is find a way to become accountable. Accountability is a really interesting thing. I am that person for a lot of people simply based on my job. So my students, most of them don’t do their workouts unless they come to me because nobody is there holding them accountable.
Nobody is there to say, ‘hey, you said you were going to do your yoga four times this week. Why haven’t you done it?’ There’s nobody there to make you stick to the goals that you set for yourself. And some people prefer to work alone. Some people prefer it to be quiet and personal, and if that works for you, that’s great. But if you think that works for you, and you’re not doing the things that you should be doing, find a buddy.
And can be any number of people. It can be a personal trainer, it can be a gym buddy where you have a set class that you go to every week, it can be just somebody who knows what you’re trying to do. Your mom or your boyfriend or your your boss- anybody you want it to be. Just let them know, so that they can check in and say, ‘Oh, hey, you said you were going to do X Y and Z workout, did you do it?’
And it’s honestly, it’s just pressure to not disappoint those people. Which is strangely really, really good motivation, not letting people down. So find somebody to help you become accountable. And I know that one of the things in terms of finding time for fitness in particular, is going to the gym, because that adds a lot of extra time, right?
You gotta get ready, and you have to look semi put together when you go to the gym, you have to eat your food and get your coffee and find a parking spot and get to your locker and all a million extra things get added when you go somewhere for a class.
And so I’m going to do a little self plug here. I teach fitness in my studio, but I also teach it online. It’s like doing a home workout video, except that it’s live. So if you’re not pushing play on the $90 workout dvds that you bought, nobody’s there to make sure you do it. But with my online classes, and my students who really enjoy it, you get all of the benefits of a group fitness class, but you don’t have all of the other annoying things that you have to do to get to a group fitness class, if you were to do it in person.
So I’m there, I’m holding you accountable, because I know when you don’t show up, and I can see when you’re not working hard enough. One of my long term students- because I’m traveling so often, we’re trying to we’re trying to find the perfect schedule for her and for me when I’m traveling. And we had talked about her doing pre recorded classes, and she said ‘no, I really like that because I won’t do it, because you’re not there holding me accountable.’
So if you like the group fitness idea, if you like the idea of a trainer, but maybe that’s too expensive, or you don’t have a gym, or you just don’t want to go to the gym, but you need somebody to hold you accountable- if you want to try these classes out, if you’re interested, send me an email, and we’ll talk about it.
But know that that’s an option for you. And I’m not the only one who teaches these classes like this. If for some reason you listen to my podcast, but you don’t like me, find somebody else who teaches virtual classes, and it’s the same idea. So let me know if you want to try that, or if you need help finding somebody. I’m more than happy to help.
And finally, another really, really important but totally underutilized thing is writing it in your planner, or in your schedule. If you know that you want something done, and you know how much time it’s going to take, and you’re pretty sure you can fit it into your day, pick a time.
Pick a specific time and a specific day that you’re going to make that happen. If the little windows of time don’t work for you, or you feel like you’ve got that down but you’re wanting to do more, plan it. Schedule it. Make it a priority. Don’t let it fall until the last minute.
When you’re sitting down and looking at your schedule for the week, figure out what self care you’re going to do, how long it’s going to take, and exactly when you’re going to do it. If you don’t spend any time or give this any forethought, it’s never going to happen. And I don’t mean this to be like a little lecture-y, but it’s totally true. For me, if it doesn’t go on my calendar, I don’t do it, because I will find a way to not do it and to pretend like I forgot about it.
And that’s not super helpful. That’s not a good way to have a self care routine. So figure out what works for you and make it a priority. Schedule it. Set a time. Set specificity to it.
Specifically in training, but also in life, you want to set a SMART goal.
S stands for specific. So specifically, what are you going to do.
M is measurable. So in this instance, it’s maybe it’s the length of time that you’re going to do something.
A is attainable. So don’t say, ‘well, this week, I’m going to go to seven 90 minute hot yoga classes,’ because nobody’s gonna do that. Nobody wants to go to seven 90 minute hot yoga classes. So that’s not attainable, do something that’s attainable.
R is realistic. That kind of plays into the same idea, can you realistically accomplish this goal that you’re setting for yourself?
And T is time focused or time based. So when is it going to happen? For what length of time, what day, and what hour in that day? When does it start and when does it end? So set a goal for yourself.
A SMART goal to accomplish these self care things. Know that you can start super small. There is no right or wrong. What works for you is not necessarily going to work for me. And what works for me is not necessarily going to work for the next person.
If you are starting from zero, and you want to get started, find a 10 minute window, find a five minute pre recorded guided meditation and start there and do that one time a week. And when you feel like you are solid with that, bump it up to two times a week and build from there.
Be flexible, allow it to be what works for you, and allow yourself to change it as you your feelings and your life changes.
So I know that my goals this week is to add two sessions of meditation, and they will be 20 minutes long. After I’ve hit stop on this recording, I’m going to sit down and I’m going to write them into my planner so I know that they’re going to get done. And in a perfect world, my self care routine and my practice are much, much, much bigger than that.
But where I am right now, what I feel is attainable and realistic for me is two 20 minute meditation sessions a week. And after I’ve done that to a point where I feel comfortable to move on to the next thing, then I’ll add to it and I’ll add what I feel is appropriate for my next step.
And my crazy friend who’s just go go go all the time, maybe their goal trend can be to sleep a little bit more, or to make sure that they’re getting, you know, let’s say six hours a night. And they’re keeping themselves in that bed, not checking their phone or watching TV, anything like that. That’s an option for them to start.
But find what works for you. Make it a priority. schedule it and be flexible. I hope that this was helpful for you. I hope it’s giving you some ideas.
As always, please reach out to me if you have any questions, comments, concerns. If there’s a topic that you want me to cover, anything- I love to talk with my listeners. I so appreciate every moment you give me. So start a conversation with me. I’m very chatty, and I’m a procrastinator, so give me a reason to procrastinate. You can find me on instagram @compassion.as.my.compass, send me an email to email@example.com or you can find me on Facebook under the same name. Thank you again for listening. I so appreciate it. I will see you next week for our next show.