Do you ever have days when you feel low? You feel tired, lacking in energy and that everything is just too much of an effort.
And do you find you tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel that way? That you should cheer up and get on with it?
Sometimes I do. And today has been one of those days.
I’ve been worrying about making a sustainable living doing what I love, namely, teaching yoga. I’ve been worrying that I hadn’t updated my blog. I’ve been thinking I need to do more marketing of my yoga classes but struggling to know what to do next and how to find time to do it.
It’s a grey day
I’ve been having a grey day. Everything seems too much of an effort and a little bit impossible. And then my ego / mind kicked in and I started telling myself that I shouldn’t feel that way because I’m a yoga teacher.
Thank you and excuse me mind, but that is a load of old tosh!
How I feel today is just that: how I’m feeling today, at this moment. It doesn’t define who I am and it certainly doesn’t invalidate my ability to achieve what I want to in my life.
Practise yoga – be honest
Being entirely honest with yourself and acknowledging your feelings whatever they are is embodying the practice of yoga.
When you’re following a path of self development there can be a pressure to feel on top of the world all the time; that you should be able to manifest all you need; that if you feel negative you’ll attract more negativity to yourself.
But pretending you’re serene and everything is fine all the time, if you just don’t feel that way, is not yogic – it’s a lie.
The second yama (restraint) of yogic philosophy is satya or truthfulness. Be truthful and acknowledge how you feel.
Be kind to yourself
Sometimes you might just feel down – and the best, kindest, most compassionate thing you can do for yourself is to accept that today, or just at this moment, this is how you feel.
It’s one thing to feel down, disappointed or anxious, but we cause ourselves even more suffering by struggling against the feelings and emotions.
In judging how we feel – and judging ourselves harshly – we will make ourselves feel worse; we tell us ourselves we’re unworthy or self-pitying or not good enough.
Now, I’m not advocating that we should indulge ourselves completely in negative thoughts and let them rule our lives. We can easily get caught up in an ever deepening spiral of negativity which can be take us to places which can be difficult to climb out of.
Here, we can help ourselves by practising the first yama of yoga: ahimsa (non-violence, or harmlessness). And this starts with how you treat yourself and the attitudes you cultivate towards yourself. Don’t be harsh on yourself.
Yes, taking steps to improve your outlook and to change negative self-talk are very helpful steps to take. But if sometimes this feels too much, don’t beat yourself up for it!
How you feel is fine
So if you are having a difficult day or are feeling down, try acknowledging that this is just how you feel today. You don’t need to attach labels to yourself because of it.
This is how you feel in this moment. It doesn’t mean you’ll feel this way tomorrow. It doesn’t define who you are.
You are capable of feeling happy and taking actions which serve your needs.
And today that action is to be kind to yourself and not to judge yourself. So give yourself a hug and nurture yourself.
Wise words from Buddha
As the Buddha said: “Our own worst enemy cannot harm us as much as our unwise thoughts. No one can help us as much as our own compassionate thoughts”.
So if a grey cloud is hovering over you today: show yourself compassion, tell yourself that how you’re feeling is fine and all part of being human.
To me, this embodies the meaning of yoga.
In acknowledging and being present with how you feel, you let go of struggle and judgment and unite with your present moment and experience your life fully. Be excited and curious about experiencing fully the journey of your life … the ups and the downs.
And in finding peace with how you feel in each moment you may find you begin to experience a greater sense of harmony in your life.
And just like a grey sky, tomorrow the clouds may lift.
Stella Tomlinson teaches Dru yoga in Southampton, UK. Dru yoga is a flowing and therapeutic style of yoga, characterised by graceful movements, directed breathing, relaxation techniques and working with affirmations and visualisations. Connect with Stella via Facebook and Twitter.