hostage: yoga mat

by blogasana on June 1, 2011

There was an assignment during one of my teacher trainings to create my ideal practice schedule — time, length, and type. I dreamed of having two hours of practice every day from 10-noon. For various reasons that seemed like the Perfect Yoga Life.

Ah, if only… at the time, I had a real job and was sitting at a desk during regular work hours. So I carved out other, less ideal times and went about my way.

that was then…

I still work at a desk, but it’s in my home… where I make my own hours and answer only to the voices in my head.

And yet… I practice less. For a yoga teacher (or in my schema of how a yoga teacher should be), I do actual asana practice pretty infrequently.

what’s going on?

There are numerous reasons my self-care goes in cycles — some personal, some not all that interesting.

What I know is this: I’ve been on a self-abuse spree. Good habits supporting sleeping, eating, practice, and general self care have been sadly lacking. The consequence is exacerbated by the fact that I am so hard on myself when I don’t meet my expectations (including the shame that is here in admitted this to you).

a teacher needs to prep, but a girl’s got to practice

There’s a saying that we teach for ourselves and we practice for our students. I agree. And I would expand it to say that we practice for the world — for our families, our co-workers, our neighbors, people we meet on the street, people we don’t even know.

Not only is it true that I can’t give what I don’t have (as a good accountant will remind you), the effects don’t stop at the people within my arm’s reach. When I’m connected through my practice to my body, breath, and the moment, I meet the world from that place. I respond to the world from that place.


One of the things I was reminded of during the Healthy Eating Cleanse at the studio is that I do well with structure. I like defined boundaries, check boxes, and measurable outcomes. Maybe there’s a little leftover Business Consultant in me.

Left to my own devices and generalities like I will practice more this week, I know I will not practice “more.” It’s too easy to let the morning slip away, and then it’s 4pm, and then there’s someone who needs something and all of a sudden it’s time to go to bed.

Because this online community of people near and far is so amazing and supportive, and you’re so good at creating accountability, I am making a practice commitment for the month of June:

I will practice every day.

On days I teach (3 days a week), “practice” may be as simple as legs up the wall before bed (serving two goals: a better night’s sleep and self-love time).

On days I do not teach, I will devote at least two hours of practice time on my mat. Not class prep, but me time.

And I will increase my twice weekly sits (with The Virtual Buddhas) to five, even if it’s just a few minutes.


It really comes down to what’s important? As I’ve written about many times, it’s difficult for me to say I am important. Important enough to take care of and nourish and love.

And you are too!


How do you take care of yourself? Among all the things in life that ask of your attention, how do you make time for yourself? Where do say No?

Really, do tell. It may inspire someone else whose self-love account is a little low.

And feel free to state a commitment of your own. Feels so gooood to write it down!

Be well friends. xo

ps- Here’s the real reason I haven’t been using my props. Shiva the kitty is holding them hostage! Ransom: a large bowl of canned cat food.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna Guest-Jelley June 1, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Love the pic! My dogs use my meditation cushion more than I do, that’s for sure.

I felt like you were talking straight to me with this post; it can be so difficult to prioritize practice (or any other kind of self-care), but it does come down to priorities. I’m a total to-do list gal, so I’ve been putting yoga and exercise at my top ranking each day. That doesn’t mean I do it first thing in the day (that actually rarely happends for me), but that I don’t put it off for other things.

I also made a commitment to practice every day in June; I think we’re in good company!


blogasana June 1, 2011 at 11:25 pm

wooot! love it!! thanks anna — i hope you can hear me cheering you from here!


Elizabeth June 2, 2011 at 12:05 am

Go, Shiva!

I am practicing Shiva Nata every day – I just tried to solicit “do something every day in June” people so I’d have company on my journey. So I’ll be journeying along with you, only not specifically with yoga. :)


blogasana June 2, 2011 at 4:24 am

hooray! we will do-something-in-june together. xoxo


madyoga June 2, 2011 at 1:14 am

Two hours? TWO HOURS? I am salivating, that sounds so delicious.


blogasana June 2, 2011 at 4:18 am

i know, right? i’ll let you know how it goes :)


Brittany June 2, 2011 at 4:55 am

You ARE important, Michelle! Thank you for reminding me I need to take care of myself.


blogasana June 2, 2011 at 11:28 pm

aw, thanks brit — you too!


Mel June 2, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Home practice is something that I’m passionate about (I just gave a workshop on it – cough, that sounds too official, it was really more like a discussion group!); but of course I struggle with it too! As my teacher training ended I felt like I had hit a wall after being rock solid for a long time – and it totally messed with me (on several levels!). I’m back on it, but it’s still very much looser than it was and I need to get some structure back. (I responded to Elizabeth’s call too – wanting to add some of the Shiva Nata back in, just a few minutes at least) Totally ON BOARD! Thank you Michelle, this is awesome.


blogasana June 2, 2011 at 11:30 pm

thanks mel!! i love that you did a {coughgchough} workshop on home practice!!! little steps, one at a time… and grateful to have community and support here! xo


Kelley M June 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I believe that life has so many twists and turns and sometimes knarls and knots that we have to really look at ALL of the commitments we make in life. We need to see how full we already are before trying to take on more and certainly before putting unnecessary pressure and bad feelings on ourselves for not meeting completely unachievable goals (we can only do so much remember). Not that I know this at any time in life when I’m taking on too much or pushing myself too hard. I only see it when I reflect back.

See as a woman, worker, wife, mom, friend, daughter, yogi, etc, etc. we have so many other commitments from flossing your teeth everyday to calling dad to keeping a clean house and eating well to finishing your work and being a good mom/wife/friend, etc. Obviously, some of these things then start to feel like chores and just go on and on and on…. Personally, I start to then wonder “where’s the Kelley time?” and I force myself to take on things that sound fun like yoga, gym, travel, languages, hiking, etc only to then get overly stressed out because now I’ve stopped flossing or calling dad….

So, essentially, what I’m saying is that when we get so busy that something slides it is usually because something else has taken our time and attention. What I have learned is that there are different times in life to do different things. For instance, as my kid has gotten more independent I have been able to take on yoga because she no longer needs childcare. And as time frees up because of general life changes it’s easier to focus inward. I envy those folks who are empty nesters or retirees and they seem to be all about self-care and fun to an outsider like me. I guess it’s just not my time right now to do “everything” and maybe it’s not yours either so just go with the flow and keep up with what’s most important to you. As time goes on that importance will change and it may start pointing in the direction that most appeals to you personally and not anywhere else.

Just some long thoughts….love.


blogasana June 2, 2011 at 11:32 pm

mmm, i hear ya, kel. a woman who came to class last night (who “seems” to have it all together.. you know the type…) was telling me that it’s all she can do to go somewhere “without a baby stuck to her boob.” HA! family life sure does change priorities. i’m glad you have a little more kelley time. and i love what you’re saying about ‘all things have their time’… so true. xoxo


Tracy June 3, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Hi, Michelle! LOVE your Shiva! Our kitty Charlie often shares a corner of my yoga mat… I practice, he snoozes. ;o) Great to catch up with you here after some travels. And I’m hearing you on this topic. Even before my trip I was slacking in some self-care departments, a creative project had me wiped out, which were only exasperated while away with disrupted meal times, not always the best food choices, lack of time to actually practice yoga while away, etc. So now home again, I’m beating myself up over lots of little things that seem to add up to one big thing–I need to do better! LOL… I’m looking forward to some time to realign again. ;o)


blogasana June 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

welcome home, tracy! i do love your pictures of charlie… what a man! they are such sweet family members.
thank you for the term ‘realign’ here — so beautiful. not that we’ve done anything ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ — we’re just making an adjustment. love it! i hope your realignment goes well. xoxo


Rachelle Mee-Chapman June 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Is there a way to do Healthy Eating Clease on line or at home? I could really use a do-able plan and someone to do it with….


blogasana June 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm

hi rachelle!! send me your email address and i’ll send you the outline of the program we used. maybe you could recruit some friends and do it together (my first time there was a group of 5 of us and it was a perfect size!).


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