Let go & allow yourself the freedom to just be. I often say this at the beginning of my classes because it is something I come into contact with every day when speaking to my students about what draws them to the mat at the beginning of each class.
In today’s society we are extremely good at placing pressures & expectations on ourselves – yes I assure you this is a fact.
We are always putting others first, many times at the detriment to our personal health & wellness. We are constantly striving to be the best we can be at whatever it is we are doing but in doing this we regularly lose sight of the reason we are actually striving towards something in the first place. We lose sight of whether it is actually something we really want or whether it is simply an expectation or pressure from ‘those’ people out there in society whoever they are. We get lost.
We feel the need to be the best mothers, fathers, sisters, friends, employers, employees, students etc etc . We feel compelled to eat certain foods, feed our children a certain way, dress a certain way, have our houses looking picture perfect at all times (yes because that is easy to do when you are toilet training a toddler or squeezing in a 40 hour working week) look a certain way & find that all allusive ‘balance’ in our lives which of course inevitably never happens (a whole other topic to be discussed in a later post) & we are left feeling depleted, exhausted, stressed, anxious & basically feeling like utter failures.
…And this is where I see students coming to class again & again as they turn to the mat. You see this is the beauty of yoga. Yoga allows you to turn up to the mat without any expectations of yourself & allows you the freedom to simply be just as you are with the ability to take from your practice whatever it is YOU need that day. Yoga doesn’t snear when you accidently put your singlet on inside out that morning & wear it for the whole day in public, yoga doesn’t gasp if you enjoyed a second latte this afternoon or judge you if your leg doesn’t want to stretch over your head into dancer today.
No, yoga allows us the freedom to show up, as we are, no matter how that is that day & allows us to simply just be.
Let me say that again – just be.
When I first began my yoga practice I was recovering from major surgery after falling suddenly acutely ill & my medical team could not find a diagnosis. I had recently been through a relationship breakdown, worked my butt off so much in my career at keeping myself busy for the sake of being busy that in the end I didn’t even know what I was working for anymore - but I did know it was for someone else’s dreams, towards someone else’s goals, not mine.
I. Was. 100%. Utterly. Exhausted. Depleted.
I had nothing left to give myself let alone anyone around me. The more I tried to be the ‘everything to everyone’ the more I tried living up to the expectations & labels of everyone around me, the more pressure I put on myself & the more dejected I felt when I failed to even show up. I was merely showing up in life, let alone living.
Letting go of labeling yourself is liberating.
Falling unexpectedly ill really turned my world upside down. For the past 4 years, I have been in and out of hospitals more times that I have had a pedicure!! Here, I was also labelled as the 'medical mystery' & ‘the poor sick skinny girl’. Being 'sick' became a label I used regularly myself in the outside world, succumbing to the label & expectation to everyone around me of being ill. Of course, the more I thought about & talked about being ill, the more I actually felt ill.
My recovery has been for the best part of 3 years & is something I am still working towards today. For the first 2 years I fought so hard to ‘label’ my illness & became increasingly frustrated when the numerous Dr’s from the amazing medical team I had around me could not give me any specific answers.
My career label as the ‘Corporate high flyer’ fell away quickly as I was too ill to leave the house & work, the label of the ‘bubbly fit girl’ fell away & I felt like I had lost my identity, I felt like a no body.
Even confound to my hospital bed or the lounge at home I was still trying to ‘be someone’ trying to search for answers instead of simply allowing myself the time to just be, to rest & to begin to recover.
I qould spend my days planning what I was going to do with my new career as I had to be ‘something important’ of course & each day it was always something new ( I may still yet become that pilot who writes a book about her life one day though!)
My poor husband & family had to endure me forever trying to justify myself for being sick - even though I didn’t need to. This was not something I had wanted, not something I had planned for as I had mapped out my life, not something I had caused but I felt guilty & felt the need to justify myself to everyone all of the time.
I had been practicing Yoga for around 12 months when I completed my first yoga teacher training - this was liberating for me at the time but upon returning to Adelaide & as I commened teaching Yoga & Pilates classes, I was still fighting with the flare ups of my ill health & the expectations I had put on myself to push my body harder before it was ready.
One day after yet another trip to hospital only 12 months ago, I finally had an epiphany ironically not on the mat but as I was thinking about how frustrated I was that I was not yet well enough to return to my yoga clasases (ok, so I am a slow learner...but my body kept persisting with it's messages until I actually stopped & listened to what it was trying to say). My ephipany was simple ' why not simply let go of the expectations I put on myself & just allow myself to be & see what happens'
I decided then & there to take the time I needed to rest (no matter how long that may be) & just be.
In tuning out the negative self talk that was telling me that I needed to ‘be something’ & by stopping the feeling's of guilt, fear, anger & frustration from ruling my world, I simply let go & just allowed myself the freedom to be as I was. To date, I haven’t looked back.
This change in my mind-set changed my thoughts, feelings, actions & also changed how I felt physically.
Now, I am not about to tell you that letting go has healed my illness. I still have flare ups & days of intense pain & of course there are regular days when I am hormonal, tired, stressed, I fall back into old atterns from time to time ( yes I am still pretty good at placing ridiculous pressures on myself) But when I take time out to just be, I quickly remember my epiphany & then I move on) Each day, no matter how stressed or unwell I might be feeling, I remind myself to let go.
This is where my regular Yoga & Meditation practices works its magic. I always feel better after taking that time out on the mat for myself to just be me - even if its just for 10 minutes to rest in savasana, if that is what I need that day.
My time on the mat is time for me to tune out from the buzz & noise & allow myself the freedom to really listen to what my body & mind are saying, tune in to how I feel & what I really need. My time on the mat allows me to let go & just be me Rebecca Gazzola as I am. Removing the expectations of myself has been revitalising, liberating & the best medication.
My message to you lovely is this – You are not the labels & names we call ourselves. Do not succumb to the pressures we put on ourselves & do not allow others to force their expectations on to you.
You do not need to be something you are not. Have confidence & belief in who you are.
Allow yourself the freedom to take time out for you each day to really observe who you are & to listen to what you need. The more regularly you take time out to just be, the more regularly you will start to feel more empowered & comfortable in who you are - even it you are unsure of who that really is right now.
Yes, it is certainly fantastic to have goals & strive towards something but do not lose yourself in all of that striving & the external pressures that you forget why you began the journey in the first place. Cut yourself some slack, do the best you can, laugh a lot & know that is enough.
Remember, each day is different, a challenging day does not mean you are not good enough, fit enough, an amazing mother or employee, it simply means you are being you & that’s ok.
Next time you step into that Yoga or Pilates class, try to let go of the expectations of yourself & your practice & just allow yourself the freedom to be & see what presents – you might just be pleasantly surprised.
Stay happy & healthy.
'Revitalise with Rebecca'