Have you ever felt like all you say is yes? Yes to all the invitations, the events, the playdates, the work commitments. Have you ever felt smothered by the amount of items on your to do list? If your answer was “YES” to all of the above, you may just be addicted to answering questions with an affirmative. To be completely honest I am recovering YES addict. Saying NO is a huge challenge for me. I hate to disappoint people, and love to help people, over the years as a yoga teacher as I have gained more knowledge and experience I have been presented with some fantastic opportunities which I am so grateful for. I have put my nose to the grind stone and worked my butt off to get where I am today. I have doled out quite a few YES answers, and I am beyond thankful for the experiences and lessons brought by all the affirmative answers.
This blog is not about those yes answers; this blog is about how I am learning to say no. Lets be clear I have not completely mastered this technique, I am always in an ever evolving process. For myself and quite a few other yoga teachers I have found that this is a struggle, saying no, speaking up and using our voices. A huge number of teachers I work with and know began teaching because we felt yoga caused a huge shift for us in our lives personally and our wish is to share the blessing yoga has bestowed upon us with others. We say yes with the purest intentions and a desire to do really good work, to enrich and empower those around us with the tool of yoga. What happens when there isn’t a balance? What happens when all the answers are yes?
As a recovering YES addict I can tell you. I have taught workshops, a thousands of classes, taught fellow teachers, and now have been honoured to have been asked to be a lululemon ambassador. I am grateful for the YES’ that led to these amazing experiences. Unfortunately the abundance of YES answers have also led to some tough life lessons. In my efforts to become the best teacher I could be I forgot about myself. I have said yes to teaching classes when I didn’t have the time, when it was to my detriment physically, when it has been less than positive financially, when it was something I had no desire to do. I have said yes when it has put my family in a tough position. I have said yes when I am drained, sick, and worn out. I have said yes when I should have said no. I have in the past and still do now struggle with bouts of anxiety and depression, stress is an aggravating factor for me. My desire to help people through yoga and willingness to say yes to every opportunity has led me to compromise my needs, my love of helping others has led me away from helping myself. I am so grateful for my yoga practice as it has allowed me to cultivate the skills to notice that this is happening and be cognizant of what a YES overload feels like in my body.
Yoga is an excellent tool to enrich the relationship to the self. Often in our society we are rushing from one thing to the next, the to do list gets longer and longer, and the connection between the mind body and spirit is placed on the back burner. We go on auto pilot, and by the time we notice that we are losing altitude its too late. Yoga is an opportunity to correct the free fall and comeback to cruising altitude. One of the greatest benefits I have discovered through a consistent and dedicated yoga practice is a keen self awareness. Next time you attend a yoga class pay attention to how often your teacher says “notice” or “feel” or “be aware of”. These cues are not accidental, they are completely intentional. They take us inside our bodies so that we can start to be sensitive and observe what comes up in the physical body through the practice. They also create space for us to observe the reactions, habits, tendencies within ourselves. We also have the opportunity to choose. Choose to take childs pose, choose to take that funky transition, or let it be. We can decide what serves us and what doesn’t.
Perhaps if this post resonates with you the next time you set to your mat allow your practice to be an occasion to say YES or say NO. Our yoga practice can serve as a conversation between mind body and spirit. Your quest as a practitioner is to remain engaged in the conversation. When we are engaged on the mat then we can start to nature that ability to move mindfully and align our actions with our intentions.
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are; and have the courage – presently, smilingly, non-apologetically to say no to other things. The way to do that is to have a bigger “yes” burning inside.”