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How I keep doing yoga even when I’m WAY too busy to do yoga.

Saturday, May 21, 2011 by Marianne Elliott

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For the past three months I’ve been busy.

Ugh. Just saying that makes me feel a bit icky.

‘I’m so busy’

Something about the word ‘busy’ makes it hard to say without coming off either self-important (I’m so busy because I’m doing so many important things) or whiney (I’m so busy, rushed off my feet, poor me).

The word ‘busy’ has connotations for me of rushing, urgency, anxiety and stress. Sometimes I use ‘I’m busy’ as a shield between me and the things or people I want to avoid. Sometimes I use it as an excuse to do things that I know are not good for me or the people around me.

One of the ways in which I am annoying in real life

For all these reasons, I generally choose other words to describe my life. If you ask me how things are going, I might tell you that my life is fabulously full, or something else equally annoyingly perky and positive.

Because most of the time that’s how my life feels, miraculously and fabulously full. I may not have a lot of time to sit on the couch and read a book, but most of the time I’m loving the ride.

Riding the adrenaline train (it’s an express)

But for the last few months life has felt plain old busy. I guess that’s what opening a restaurant, writing a book, teaching yoga, setting up a non-profit, running online courses, writing articles and working as a human rights consultant will do for you. It’s been week after week of working 16-18 hours a day, often seven days a week.

It’s too much. I’ve felt rushed, tired, anxious and overwhelmed at times.

Put simply: I’ve been busy.

It’s not something I recommend. I’ve felt adrenaline and cortisone coursing through my body, giving me the message that my life is at risk and driving me to work even harder, move even faster, sleep even less. If I didn’t know how to use breathing practices and simple yoga poses to calm and rebalance my nervous system I suspect things might have even got a lot worse.

The silver lining

But the upside of all this busyness is that I finally have real empathy for people who tell me they are too busy to do yoga.

Because it really is possible to be too busy to do a yoga class. It is possible to be too busy to find even 45 minutes to do a home yoga practice. I know, because I’ve been there day after day these past few months.

But I still wasn’t too busy to do yoga.

What? Did I just contradict myself?

Nope. I may not have had time for yoga classes or for 45 minute asana practices, but I had time to do yoga. Let me tell you a story that might help explain.

A story about doing yoga when you are too busy to do yoga

A week or so ago I called a friend, another yoga teacher, and asked her if we could practice yoga together. ‘I’ve let my practice slide,’ I told her, ‘and I know practicing with you will be just what I need to get going again.’

When we got together to practice she watched me for a while and then she said: ‘Well, you don’t look like someone who hasn’t been practicing.’

And that’s when I realised that I had been doing yoga all along.

I had been taking five minutes in the morning to deepen my breathing as I walked down the hill to the bus. I had been stopping for an instant in the middle of dinner service at the restaurant and grounding through my feet, breathing deeply and consciously softening my body where I noticed I was becoming tense.

I’d been doing a couple of rounds of sun salutes here and there to bring myself into alignment – body, mind and spirit. Maybe most importantly of all, I’d been using the anchors of my body and my breath to keep bringing myself back to what was right in front of me rather than getting totally hooked into worrying about the future, or even just constantly writing and rewriting my mental lists.

I had been practicing yoga.

And I realised this was exactly what I needed to offer. A course in yoga for people who are too busy to do yoga. So that’s what I’m going to offer, with enrollment starting next week. Want to hear me talk about it in my ‘adorable’ Kiwi accent (I am SO going to milk that one for all it’s worth!)? You can watch this video in which I get very excited about proving to you that you are not too busy to do yoga.

Save the date

If you think this course might be for you then mark 25 May in your diary because that’s the day when you are going to sign up. Then run a bright yellow highlighter across all of June, because that’s when we are going to start doing yoga together no matter how busy you are!

It is going to be SO simple. You’ll get an email every day reminding you to do your simple practices and giving you my hard-won tips for doing yoga when you are too busy to do yoga.

The practices will start at 5 minutes long (actually, the most fundamental practice, which is grounding, can be done in less than a minute), and the longest practice will be 20 minutes long. Your commitment will be to do 10 minutes of yoga practice (which may be in the form of breathing, grounding or movement/poses) six days per week. I know even you can do that much.

Not gonna bug you about this unless you want me to

I have lots more to say about this course, how it’s going to work and why you can do it no matter how busy you are, but first I want to be sure that you are interested.

So if you want to know more about this course please be sure to join my mailing list. If you only want to know about my online yoga courses, tick the first box. If you think you might like to know about other courses I offer, updates on my book and any other special offers, then tick the second box.

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6 Responses to "How I keep doing yoga even when I’m WAY too busy to do yoga."

  1. Marcela says:

    I’m going on vacations in June and I’m not bringing my laptop because otherwise I won’t unwind 🙁
    Any chance there will be another session sometimes in July/August? Please????

  2. Marianne, love this post. I’ve had the same experience in terms of meditation. When I measured my practice by how often I sat at my meditation table in traditional practice, I so often felt I was falling short. But then I realized the way I go through life every day, I never not practicing.

    Program sounds great & such a blessing.

    Also, my dear, as someone making a very slow recovery from adrenal fatigue, PLEASE take care of yourself. There’s a great book by J. Wilson called Adrenal Fatigue. (title is longer but you’ll find it )

  3. jan says:

    Thank you for this post. I so recognise the “too busy to do yoga” person. I was that person for so many years. Just started after years of saying that i wanted to. I will have a look at your course, but I just wanted to thank you for the post itself. x

  4. Brigitte says:

    Oh my gosh! I didn’t realize that I’d been doing this, too, every time I get “too busy.” Even when I don’t do a full practice, I rarely go more than 3 days without at least doing a pose or two.

  5. Roxanne says:

    You are so right about the self-importance that sometimes come with busy. One of my pet peeves is when others (or I…) list off everything they did today or everything they have yet to do. At the same time, on some days, the overwhelm becomes so pressing that listing off everything is a way of coping in itself.

    I admire your poise and self-awareness in dealing with all this. You are inspiring me to feel my breath and my feet on the ground. Thank you.

  6. Swirly says:

    I have been learning how to incorporate tiny bits of practice into my days, and it does make a huge difference. I love this course you are putting together!!

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