Many of you may be wondering if an exploration into yoga will turn your life and yourself upside down. The answer for me was yes it would appear so! But there is no right way to follow a yogic lifestyle and many of my peers on the Yoga Teacher Training course have since gone back to their jobs, partners, houses and usual routines. It’s just I always liked to be dramatic.
I was a Litigation lawyer for many years and my job involved preparing cases for Court, sometimes appearing before Judges in Tribunals, and jumping to the command of Partners and those higher up the food chain (some with personality disorders, most not). My job involved being right, all the time, and if you weren’t right then finding some way to argue that you were right. It involved finding holes, points to score and A LOT of banter. I worked with some amazing colleagues and some truly inspiring clients – one was an international charity that objected to an intensive dairy farm development in the UK. Think battery farmed cows. Yup. Grim. And it exists.
I loved my job for a long time and whilst I began to suffer from stress and anxiety I do believe that if I went back into Law I could do so now in a far healthier and happier way.
I’d like to share with you some yoga tips which you can integrate into your busy lives so you don’t need to pack up a rucksack and travel to Rishikesh for a month (although if you can, then do!)
1) Breathe. It sounds simple but just check in now as you read this. Where are you feeling the movement of your breath? Most of us shallow breathe from our chest (a fight and flight response). See if you can take your breath down to your belly on an inhale and release from your belly on an exhale. Do this as often as you can. All day preferably.
2) Find some activity which absorbs your full concentration – it could be yoga, meditation, walking, running or cooking. Meditation is any activity in which you are engaging fully and positively. Make time, if only 5-10 mins a day, to meditate in your own way.
3) Be kind to yourself. The phone rings and the client is mad. They received your bill. Your heart stops. You have to explain to the client and then go and confess to your boss. Notice where your thoughts go in moments of high stress – are you chastising yourself for not pre-empting the situation? Are you reliving the conversation with the client kicking yourself for not explaining it one way or another? Whatever your thought reaction is – try and notice it and then stop it. Our mind has a programmed pattern of behaviour particularly in negative situations and we can spiral down into a pit of despair before we realise it.
4) This too shall pass. I used to get particularly nervous appearing before Judges in Tribunals and despite prepping for days I’d always feel slightly panicky. I’d often repeat to myself “it’s only a hour of my life” or “it’s only 8 hours” (whatever the hearing length was) and it was my way of acknowledging that the moment, the feeling , the hearing, was only temporary, and it would soon be over. Remind yourself of that in the good moments and the less good moments and savour the experience.
5) You can’t do it all. Accept that sometimes you need to take shortcuts, that you buy fairy cakes for your kids party instead of baking them from scratch because it was that or the kid turned up to said party like the great unwashed in dirty clothing. That unnamed pressure to be perfect isn’t real. No one finds you that interesting. That may sound unkind but see it as liberating and free yourself from the need to be the perfect husband /wife /parent /boss /son/daughter/friend /baker/candlestickmaker.