The idea of achieving Work-Life balance is at the heart of both our yoga practice on our mats, and of taking our yoga into our lives as a whole. Instead of searching for 'work-life balance' yoga teaches us to explore the balance between being present and getting through the day quickly so we can rest and start over the next day. Slow down, concentrate on your work and be mindful so it gets done right the first time. By doing this, you’ll soon realize how much extra time you have for your body to move off the mat.
If practiced often, using yoga and meditation as an outlet to the stress of daily life will become robotic. Meaning, if you do it often enough, you will begin to notice that a day without it just doesn’t seem right. This is my reality, and I crave the daily practice so much that I notice I am productive at work so that maybe…just maybe…I give myself an extra 30 minutes to hit the mat. My dedication to work is prevalent because of my dedication to my yoga practice. I succeed at work because I make it a point to slow down, breathe, let go of expectations, consciously listen, receive, and be engaged. These are all things we learn and cultivate in yoga. Our teachers talk about all of these attributes every time we walk into the studio. This is how I take my yoga practice into my work-life and I use these attributes as a guide every step of the way.
While there is no one-size-fits-all for achieving a work-life balance, there are things we can do throughout our day to keep things real.
Have Set Work Hours – And Stick To Them:
I have a M-F job that I work. I’m in sales for a global food company and my customers own restaurants, run foodservice for schools, feed hospital patients, and run cafeterias for the military. A lot of my customers have dining rooms that are open 24-7 with no holidays or weekends off. And while I get calls after 5 PM and over the weekend, I never respond until the next business day. My boundaries are set for myself, my family time, and my peace of mind. It’s important to stick to work during the work hours and dedicate the remainder of the day to yourself and your family no matter what.
Take A Break:
Remember to take time out throughout your day to step away from work. On good work days, I’m able to get a yoga class in during my lunch break. I always have my mat in the car, so no matter what side of town I’m on, I have options. There are other days that I’m driving from one sales call to the next. I make sure I find some shade, crack the window, recline the seat in my car, and simply close my eyes and breathe deep.
Build Downtime Into Your Schedule:
When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends, and activities that help you recharge. In my case, I always plan a date night with my husband or meet a friend for a hike or a quick visit during the week. That way, I have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage my time so I don't have to cancel. You may even be able to leave work earlier if you make a conscious effort to limit the time you spend on the web and social media sites, making personal calls, or checking your bank balance. We often get sucked into these habits that are making us much less efficient at work without realizing it.
Rethink Your Errands:
Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands. Could you order your groceries online and have them delivered or schedule a pick-up? Hire a kid down the street to mow your lawn or pick up dog poop? Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office? Order your stamps online so you don't have to go to the post office? Even if you're on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you'll save will make it worth it. Amazon is my go-to for those times when I need batteries, lemi-shine for the dishwasher, or light-bulbs. Most of the time, I can wait 2 days for these items to arrive, and I can save a trip to the hardware store.
It's hard to make time for exercise when you have a jam-packed schedule, but it may ultimately help you get more done by boosting your energy level and ability to concentrate. Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert, and I've noticed that when I don't exercise because I'm trying to squeeze in another half hour of work, I don't feel as alert. I make it a point to move every day and yoga has taught me that even 10 deep breaths during the day is movement.
Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.
Don't assume that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life. Slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you. Maybe you can start by spending an hour a week on your hobby, or schedule yourself time to lay on your mat with soft music and breathing. Even during a hectic day, you can take 10 or 15 minutes to do something that will recharge your batteries. I like to take a bath almost every night. I light some candles and listen to music. 15 minutes of total bliss.
Keeping a regular yoga practice is the key to bringing it all together in balancing work and life. In time, everything you learn in yoga will pop up in some opportunity off the mat. You’ll find yourself in what you used to be a difficult situation and after practicing yoga, you’ll take it all in stride. In my particular case, there are times I run into a customer with a heightened ego, and there is nothing I can say or do that will make things right. If it wasn’t for yoga, I would probably curl up into a ball in the corner and cry. Yoga has definitely made me stronger mentally and emotionally to deal with hard situations at work and in life.
There is no ideal work life balance; everyone is different and the 'right' balance may alter over time as families grow older and personal commitments change. Your best individual work-life balance will vary over time, often on a daily basis. The right balance for you today will probably be different for you tomorrow. The right balance for you when you are single will be different when you marry, or if you have children; when you start a new career versus when you are nearing retirement.
There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance you should be striving for. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives. When you do, when you are a person that not only gets things done, but also enjoys the doing, it attracts people to you. Simple concepts in the above mentioned…. And once you focus on them as key components of your day, they are not that hard to implement.
So, make it happen, for yourself, your family and all the important individuals you care about…every day for the rest of your life… It all starts with you!
At Ignite Yoga, we believe that yoga is for everyone–For people of all ages and all walks of life.