yoga

The Freedom of Routine

Earlier in my life, I experienced such debilitating depression and anxiety that it became clear that I needed to make some changes. I found yoga and began to make changes in my life to improve my health. I also made a promise to my self to follow my passions. I became extremely cautious about stagnation, which at that time I associated with depressive behavior…and I thought that could be accomplished by being ON THE MOVE. My primary goal was to stay effervescent, happy, and to not get bored. I moved something like 20 times in 6 years and traveled and worked at lots of different places and had lots of different experiences. Meanwhile, my practice deepened and guided me in to new layers of exploration and understanding….

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Last winter, my yoga practice led me to make a pilgrimage to India with my philosophy teacher Douglas Brooks. The experience was even more profound than I expected it to be. And in some ways it had unanticipated results. The texture of India spoke to a deep part of me that needed more color, beauty, meaning, and community When I put foot back in the states, I experienced a dense contraction that pulled me deeper inside myself and practice (ok it was winter in the Northeast, so that likely played a part). But I felt a deep swell of energy that directed me. Things needed to change, with in and with out. And so came a series of changes in my life….

The most significant being that I took a full time job as Assistant Director of Community Engagement at Hospicare. I joined a great team working collectively for a common mission. And… I found myself in a routine, that which I had previously feared the most. But instead of it being a constrictive experience, it’s actually been quite expansive! A regular schedule has actually made MORE space in my life. Space that has been filled with more self-care, yoga, vitality, and clarity!

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Of course it did require that I pull back from teaching weekly public classes. But my daily routine, pranayama, meditation, asana found its home in the early morning when the day is still and sweet. I began going deeper into the practices of Ayurveda and established a Dinacharya or a daily routine that includes a meaningful engagement with my food and skin care in a way that an erratic schedule never allowed for.

In yoga, moksha is our experience of freedom. And from a tantric perspective, liberation is not something to be gained by controlling the body or leaving the body. It is precisely the gift of embodiment that gives our spirt the chance to take form, engage with the world and create and express. So the next time you are feeling distress, try softening into your routine and connecting with your self-care rituals that are woven in throughout your day. Embracing the boundaries of your body and your routine may just help you experience more freedom!