What are your rituals..?
Rituals are so important in our lives.. Whether or not we are aware of the rituals in our lives.. they exist regardless! Our actions before we go to sleep: putting things away, turning things off, locking the door, brushing our teeth, giving a sigh as we fall into bed. Our actions when we wake up in the morning: turning on the light, checking the time, turning off the alarm, looking outside for sunshine or clouds, putting the kettle on. Sometimes we have positive rituals; washing our face in the morning or having a lemon tea in the morning before food. Sometimes we have rituals we have become dependent on: hunting down our morning coffee before we can embrace the day or checking social media before we start our morning (not always so positive..) For me, yoga became a ritual in my life.. in fact it was probably more like an addiction when I first started. I became hooked on the physical and mental benefits that I could clearly feel, the improved strength in my mind and body that I observed on a daily basis. In March this year, it has been 10 years that I have been practicing yoga regularly (almost daily). It has seen me through many phases of my life, changing careers, health issues, marriage, running companies, divorce, loss, changing countries, making a new start, starting a new business, pregnancy, single-parenthood and all the challenges that come with balancing these aspects. As time passed, my association with yoga changed from an obsession to part of my daily reflection and a curious journey intertwined in my day to day life. Having positive rituals that we can turn to during challenging times, can help improve our quality of life and how we manage the twists and turns of our journey. Being aware of rituals is just as important, because if we don't recognise them as helpful tools then how will we know to use them when we are in need? If we have the awareness to acknowledge when we are struggling or growing fatigued, we can see that this is when we could support ourselves with positive rituals to encourage kindness, patience and compassion towards ourselves and others. Every individual is different and we can develop our own safe-harbours during storms. Mindfulness, yoga and meditation are all useful tools that we can turn to when we need. In saying that, it is often hard to find the motivation, strength or time for yourself. Turning up to yoga can be one of the hardest and easiest decisions to make. It is often hard, because we can feel like it is an 'unnecessary luxury' and there are other more urgent things we need to attend to and we feel guilty by thinking of ourselves or putting ourselves first. However, once you turn up, it can be the easiest decision you have made. We can let down our guard, breathe, reflect and allow our minds to be guided by someone else. It is often the most necessary aspect that we need in our lives. We don't need to make any decisions, we don't need to answer any questions, we don't need to think about our responsibilities or plan ahead; we just need to be present in those 60min (or longer if you want!). In that time and space we can begin to develop more clarity, calmness and often answers to the questions we are facing. Having these rituals to turn to can simplify life when we believe things are increasingly complicated. Whether it be yoga, meditation, or mindfulness (which comes in many shapes and forms!), it is truly worthwhile to create time in your life and allow yourself reflection. My yoga teachers always used to tell me; " Just turn up, even if you spend the whole 60min on the mat! You will still receive the benefit from allowing yourself to be present"