Yoga is so much more than just the physical practice (known as the asana practice). What many don’t know is that yoga is broken into 8 limbs. Each of the 8 limbs is to help the individual to become a better person and to help them work their way towards enlightenmen.
Of course this is a very basic way to describe a very old and rather detailed history of what yoga truly is. Baby steps.
One practice of yoga has resonated with me significantly more than the other parts, though I do my best to practice each, of course. But my favorite, and my main focus s the practice of Ahimsa.
Ahimsa is a sanskrit word that translates roughly to “compassion and kindness towards all living creatures”. That definition will shift lightly, depending on where you translate, but this is the translation I was taught during my yoga teacher training.
This may be a bit controversial for some, but I will say that I interpret that to mean living a vegan life. Not only in terms of the food I’m eating, but the products I buy, as well. Cruelty free cosmetics, no leather or wool- truly nothing that comes from an animal, to th absolute best of my ability.
I think that something that can often be overlooked when it comes to the idea of ahimsa, is that the practice of compassion and kindness towards all living creatures should start at home. It should happen first with yourself.
Self care is something that is becoming very popular in the main stream lately, but I don’t know that it’s being talked about in all the ways that it should be. Yes, taking time for a glass of wine is great, or a bubble bath is a great way to relax, but self care and ahimsa are so, so much bigger than that.
Now, rather than going into a big spiel about the different ways you can practice self care, I want to just jump into the story of how traveling the world and leaving everything behind is an important practice of my ahimsa beliefs.
Depending on how long you’ve been following me, and on what platforms, you may or may not know that I’m about to leave my home in New York and begin to travel the world for the next 8 months. I’ll leave behind my studio, my clients, my friends, husband, family, pets- all of it. (Don’t worry, the pets will be very well taken care of!)
As I’ve shared this plan with friends, family, and clients, I’ve gotten some pretty wild reactions, as I’m sure you can imagine.
- “You’re traveling alone?! That’s not safe! Women shouldn’t travel by themselves.”
- “What about your husband? How could you possibly leave him for so long?”
- “How will you possibly pay for this?”
- “Lots of these places you’re going aren’t safe!”
- “What’s wrong with New York? Why can’t you just suck it up?”
- “What if you get home sick?”
- “What about your family? You’ll be alone on Christmas!”
- “What if you have a bad time?”
- “How could you leave ME?!”
Even though I get these questions on an almost constant basis as my trip draws nearer, I’m still never entirely sure how to respond. Do I tell people to F off and mind their own business? Do I simply say I wanted more excitement? Do I smile and nod? Or do I go into the difficulties I deal with in New York in the winter?
I grew up in California. It will always be home for me. Over the past 8 years in New York, I’ve struggled with the long, cold winters. But over the past 2 or 3 years, my ability to deal with the weather has diminished significantly. It is very difficult to put into words, but for more than half the year, every single year, I feel completely helpless. I can’t get out of bed, I barely can get myself dressed, I give up on my business, and I often find myself contemplating if it’s worth continuing to live when the days are so short, and so bitterly cold and the sun seems to have disappeared for good.
Yes, this trip is a big deal. And quite drastic. But so is quite literally losing the will to go on another day because of the weather.
Yes, I am absolutely terrified of the unknown this trip brings. Yes, I will miss my cats, my friends, my family and my clients more than I could put into words. Yes, it’s expensive (though, shockingly, not as much as you’d think). Yes, I’ll get home sick. Yes, there will inevitably be really difficult parts to this. But I need to do this.
I spent an incredible amount of time considering my options, and the absolute best conclusion I have come to was to take this trip. To disappear into the world, do a bit of sun chasing, and spending some time doing some soul searching to see exactly what it is I want out of this world.
Yes, this was an incredibly selfish decision. But you know what, I live my life for me first. How can I be a good wife, teacher, friend, daughter, coach, neighbor, etc. if I am not okay with myself first?
Sometimes self care needs to be selfish.
The word “selfish” has such a bad connotation, I think. It is perceived to be a bad thing. But sometimes it is absolutely necessary. I truly think we need to trend away from shying away from making decisions that benefit ourselves first.
There’s only so much that one person can give to those around them. There is a limit to what one person can give without refilling their tank, so to say.
So that is exactly what I am doing. Taking time to me, to fulfill my needs so that I can come back and be able to give to those I love. It is unfortunate that people are upset and even offended that I am going, but I will not carry around guilt for taking time to heal myself.