Yoga is about taking care. Your practice on the mat is about taking care of yourself. Your practice off the mat is about taking care of both yourself and the world around you.
Put your palms together. Keep your thumbs and pinkies together and separate your middle three fingers to form a cup. You need to sip from this cup to nourish yourself. Then you can share the leftovers with the world around you. If you give the contents of the cup only to the world around you, you will be running on empty. How long can you last without burning out?
It’s vital to take care of yourself in order to be there for the world around you: your loved ones, your work, and the greater good. Part of our karma yoga practice is self-care. Without self-care, karma yoga would be in short supply. You wear yourself down, get sick, and wind up out of commission for a long while as you administer intensive self-care in order to return to health and service.
A common cause of such extremes is what the Tibetan Buddhist meditation teacher Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche calls “speedy busyness.” This is a plague in our high-tech, fast-paced society in which we have accustomed ourselves to getting what we want immediately. You reply to a few emails, then answer the ringing phone, then wash the dishes, then do this chore and finish that other chore… and before you know it, it’s way past your bedtime and you haven’t practiced your self-care routine, be it yoga or meditation or another healthy endeavor.
Meditate for twenty minutes every day. But if you’re too busy, meditate for an hour. ~ Zen Buddhist proverb
In other words, slow down. Make time for self-care. There is absolutely no excuse. Ask your loved ones to respect this alone time: no interruptions unless there is a fire. You – and they – will be more content and more grateful.
Rest your palms faced up on your thighs. Inhale and close your hands into a gentle fist. Exhale and open your hands. Inhale and you are receiving from the world around you. Exhale and you are giving back to the world around you. Maintain the balance between this give and take: look after yourself on a daily basis, and you will consistently have the energy to care for the world.
© 2016 Amy Dara Hochberg. Photographer: Laura K. Dotterer. All rights reserved.
Yoga with Amy Dara by Amy Dara Hochberg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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