Find Your Ease

I think (I hope!) I’ve just gotten through a pretty stressful patch. It began over the summer. My husband traveled out of the country for a week and a half, then we went on vacation, then we had houseguests, then my husband traveled out of the country again for another week and a half, then we had houseguests again, then my younger son started kindergarten, then he transferred schools, then he had a fever followed by an ear infection that made him stay home from school for a week, and then he got an ear infection in the other ear. And of course at the same time I was doing all my usual mom stuff, plus family stuff, plus trying to teach yoga and run the studio at the same time.

Does this sound like your life too? Sometimes it’s so difficult being an adult.

What I learned from this prolonged ordeal is that during times of stress, we either break down or we toughen up. Toughening up is positive in the sense that it helps you get things done. But in this case I realized that toughening up over and over and over is not necessarily healthy.

If we look at it from a science perspective, during times of stress our bodies produce adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone that triggers the fight or flight response, which is meant to help us in a true emergency situation, not for day to day functioning.

If we look at it from a practical perspective, well, if we look at it from my own experience over the past few months, what I realized is that as I toughened up over and over, I stopped feeling my body and my feelings. Without realizing it, I became hardened.

I was overly focused and determined to get everything done, on being everything to everybody, to the point where I was not aware of my own body and my own needs. This is a pretty big deal, and actually kind of embarrassing, for a yoga teacher, who should know better, to lose sense of her own body.Z bound angle

I realized all of this one day in early September when I finally made time for a yoga class. At the beginning of class the teacher asked how I was feeling, and I said I was fine. I really believed I was fine.

Then the practice started and I began to breathe and move, and that’s when I realized I wasn’t fine. Every movement hurt. Every pose was difficult. At one point, in child’s pose, tears rolled down my face and onto my mat. It was just all the built up stress coming out, it was my tough self realizing I needed to soften.

It was a sign that I needed to make a change, which I’ve since been trying to do. I’m trying to figure out how to do less. I might be an expert at finding ease in my practice, but apparently I need to work on finding some ease in my life.

And of course, it’s hard work. It’s hard to find ease when you’re a working mom, or when you’re a caretaker, or when you’re a single parent, or when you’re focused on doing a good job at whatever you’ve got going on in your life. No matter the circumstance, we all sometimes have trouble slowing down and taking care of ourselves.

But geez, it’s important. We only get one body in this life and we have to take care of it. We have to get good sleep, we have to eat well, we have to drink water, and brush our teeth, and get checkups, and manage our stress. Because we just have the one body to help us carry out our life’s work, and the body needs to last. And of course it’s a bonus if the body lasts a long time and doesn’t give you too much trouble along the way, right?

Do you see yourself in my story of busy-ness? Are you in a pattern of toughening up over and over? Are you taking good enough care of you?

Take some time to pay attention to how you’re feeling and make a conscious decision about what to do next. It doesn’t have to be a grand and complicated change (that will only end up causing you stress). Just a little bit of something to put you on a healthier path. Baby steps. One step at a time.

I’d love to hear from you on this. What’s the one little thing you’re going to do to find some ease in your life?

Zelinda Pro 2013 Red Top small

XO, Zelinda


P.S. I joined the 40 Day Challenge to help hold myself accountable to my self-care. It’s not too late to join! Here’s a link to the details. Let me know if you want in.



Does Yoga Makes You Feel Guilty and Naughty?

I had a private lesson yesterday with two lovely women, friends who have had the good fortune of being workout buddies for a long time. They have a fun sense of humor and they’re used to working out hard with their trainer, which of course is awesome and so great for their health. They came to us for a private lesson with a couple of goals in mind: 1. To find out if they like yoga, and 2. To learn enough that they could transition into regular yoga classes.

These two ladies breezed through the first 45 minutes of the practice. We worked on chest openers, hip openers, strengthening, and balance. The physical part of the practice was a piece of cake for them, since they are so adept at using their bodies.

But when we transitioned to the relaxation part of the practice, something changed. Relaxation is something these two great ladies don’t typically practice, and it took a conscious shift in their mindsets to help them get comfortable with the idea of doing nothing.

One woman joked that she felt “guilty and naughty, like [she] should be doing chores at home.” And they laughed about not telling their trainer about this relaxation experience, because she might make them work harder in their next workout. It was all in fun, of course, but it spoke to a deeper truth in our society: Learning to relax is hard work.

This theme has come up consistently with the students in my lessons and classes lately. As a society, we are skilled at working hard, but we’ve never learned to relax. We perceive value in hard work and we equate relaxation with laziness. But the fact of the matter is that we need balance. Just like how in our asana practice we strive to balance effort and ease, so must we do in our lives.

If we spend our lives in a cycle of hard work and stress, we run the risk of poor health, a short life, or sadly, both.

RelaxationBut the good news is that relaxation practices can help undo some of the harmful effects of stress. Some of our regular, long-term students have managed their stress and improved their health so much that their doctors have reduced or even eliminated their blood pressure or diabetes medication. There are real benefits to learning how to relax.

And please know that knowing how to relax is not inherent to us as humans. It needs to be practiced and learned. I teach yoga for a living, and even I struggle with relaxation sometimes.

Just this morning, I had a very stressful time getting out the door with my kids. I dropped them off at their summer camp and as I was driving back home I was thinking about the long list of things I need to do today. It was a real challenge for me decide to pull into the studio so I could have a few minutes to move, breathe, relax, and reset, before beginning my work today.

But here’s the thing. We must take care of ourselves first, or we eventually wear ourselves out and can’t do a great job at anything.

For example, when I’m too tired and stressed, I’m a distracted and short tempered mom, a less present and less beneficial Yoga teacher, and an unfocused and inefficient business person.

From a productivity perspective, it’s so worthwhile to consistently practice relaxation and create an element of ease in your life, especially for busy people. Because when your mind is at ease you are more focused, more creative, and your mind is sharp. You can get more done. And ultimately, who doesn’t want that?

So even if it seems next to impossible, please try to build some relaxation into your life. Make time for a hot bath in the tub (Epsom salt rocks!), or go to bed early, or wake up early so you have a few minutes to practice breathing before you start your day.

Or come in and see us. We have all sorts of ways to teach relaxation. You can choose from private lessons or yoga classes, or we have a meditation workshop coming up on Saturday, or if you’re brand new you might want to try a Beginners Series.

Browse around our website to find something that feels like the right fit for you right now. And if you’re not sure where to start, or if the idea of relaxing sounds intimidating, just send me a note. I’ll be honored to help.

Zelinda Pro 2013 Red Top


XO, Zelinda