10 Ways to Work in a Relaxed Way

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Illustration cred goes to Julia Drachman, from the book Yoga U: The College Student’s Tools for Balanced Living.

Hello from Florida, where I am taking a break from my NYC overwhelm to celebrate my grandma’s 94th birthday. That said, I came with a backpack full of work. (And the backpack is my latest obsession that I purchased last week to aid in my grad school + work + yoga triple life: a STATE bag.)

From now until June 17, it feels like I have an inordinate amount of things to accomplish (report cards, promo for my yoga workshops, graduate school summer session, the list goes on!). I wanted to use this three-day weekend to get ahead on these important tasks, or at least to feel less like I was drowning in them.

So…during my Uber ride en route to the airport, I set an intention: “I intend to use this weekend to work in a relaxed way.” This feels fairly revolutionary to me; I am used to working under deadlines, with stressed-out coworkers, in cluttered offices, all while feeling like, no matter how much I try to work, the hum and buzz of the city I love so much seems to distract me.

My intention has ended up in this list, for your enjoyment, and calm work habits. Without further ado, here are 10 ways to work in a relaxed way!

  1. Bring your laptop to the nail salon and write, write, write while your toes get polished, polished, polished.
  2. Take readings to the pool so that you can lounge back and contemplate those important texts.
  3. Use exercise as a way to contemplate your work. Go for a run with the intention of, for example, thinking up a blurb for that next workshop.
  4. Do mindless tasks that still allow you to cross a lot off that to-do list while watching TV.
  5. Chunk It Up. Make a list of small tasks you need to get done…maybe the ones you dread doing, and then, after accomplishing each one, treat yourself to doing something super fun!
  6. Listen to music while you work.
  7. Make your work fashionable. Find brands that you love to tote your work in. I personally love Poppin office supplies, and looking at them makes me excited to do my work (I judge a book by its cover!).
  8. Stay inspired. Similar to “chunk it up,” after accomplishing each task, read a piece of what I like to call “professional development literature” by people you admire to inspire you to do more.
  9. Go to a coffeeshop. Order a latte, or a drink of your choice, savor it, and get inspired by those working around you in their own relaxed ways.
  10. Pair work with another activity. In Better than Before, my favorite tip from Gretchen Rubin was to pair habits together. For example, pair coffeeshop work an exercise class, so that you know that one signals the other. This makes you feel like you have a fuller life, which in turn translates into happier work time!

How are you? (Really.)

Mindfulness not only makes it possible to survey our internal landscape with compassion and curiosity but can also actively steer us in the right direction for self-care.
Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

When I walked into yoga this afternoon, my teacher stood in front of my mat and asked, “How are you?”

“I’m okay,” I responded: the truth, after a gruelingly challenging Monday I some how made it through. “How are you?”

“Okay,” she responded as if mulling it over. “You’re like, ‘I made it. I’m here.'”

Inhale. Exhale. Exhale again.

This morning, I experienced a series of unfortunate events that I somehow made it through. My story of growing up on OM is a story colored darkly with bodily trauma, and painted over with a sheen of brightly-colored emotional recovery. This morning’s events triggered those feelings of trauma…and I made it through those moments, to a 5:15pm yoga class and more.

Today was one of those days when I realized the vitality of providing an honest response to the question, “How are you?” Like a reflex, reply, “Good,” even – and almost especially – when we’re not. But our vocabulary contains more words for a reason. We feel more things than “good.” And even though it might seem like people are asking that question as a courtesy, that question is also an opportunity. An opportunity to check in, to respond, to pause, to regulate. More than that, when we respond honestly – and this my yoga teacher from this afternoon taught me – we become the kinds of people that others feel comfortable responding honestly to.

So, how are you?

My Yoga Mama

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Happy (belated – I promise, I wrote this post on the day of!) Mother’s Day​! While it is important to view celebrations as nuanced based on who is and is not able to celebrate on a given day I would like to use this day as an opportunity to honor my mother and her yoga journey on this blog.

This afternoon, after a lovely brunch and walk around the Central Park reservoir, we settled in her living room to discuss her very important yoga journey. Needless to say, I am an abundantly proud daughter.

Let’s start off…What was the highlight of your Mother’s Day? (And that can be going to yoga!)

The highlight of my Mother’s Day was seeing you and getting a gift I totally enjoyed – Sweaty Betty yoga pants.

Tell us about the yoga class that you took this morning.

Oh, this is my favorite class! Sho, a teacher at Pure Yoga, teaches a very gentle class. He also always puts in something very spiritual, which puts things in perspective and gets to the heart of what really matters: centering yourself, being the best you can be, and it is just such a good class in every which way. It helps my back and relaxes me.

Why did you start doing yoga?

I started doing yoga because I had a really chronic upper back issue: a lot of knots and really uncomfortable all the time. After doing an MRI, I was told that the only thing that would help me would be taking steroid injections. I tried that a couple of times and it didn’t help. I was inspired by my daughter’s yoga practice that I decided to give it a go myself.

Why did you continue doing yoga?

 

Other than having my children, yoga has been the best thing. It’s been a way to clear the mind of clutter and it’s helped my back issues. [The helping of the back issues] is almost like a fringe benefit. It’s funny because you do it for the process and the result is the icing on the cake. When people say, “Oh, you look so great! You’re walking so tall!” I kind of smile inwardly because I think that they don’t know how much I have to apply myself to do that and it’s not that you go once a week and you’re going to get those results; you have to go three or four times a week.

How often do you practice yoga, and what kinds of styles do you practice?

On a good week, I would go four times a week and I have my favorite classes at Pure Yoga. I take Yin on Monday nights with Kate Cuss who is phenomenal, and then I take Iyengar on Thursday nights, but some of this depends on my work schedule. And then I take Sho who is a combination of Yin and Iyengar on Saturday and Sunday.

What’s your favorite pose right now?

Well, I love legs up the wall. As a matter of fact, I’m doing it now when we go into savasana and I just decide that I am going to just do it now because it’s much better for my back than just lying flat. But there are so many poses, and it’s a culmination. I love Yin because your body carries a lot of your emotions, and it opens up parts that you don’t even know you’re sensitive to. You feel more open and vulnerable, but in a good way.

What’s been the #1 lesson you’ve learned from yoga?

To be in the moment.

Workshop Announcement: DIY Home Practice

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Today, during lunch, a coworker asked me a question I’ve been asked many times…this week: How can I start a home yoga practice?

Now, this simple question comes with many other explanations and inquiries attached to it:

  • I don’t live near any yoga studios.
  • The timing of the classes at the studios I am near don’t work for my schedule.
  • A full hour feels like too much time.
  • I want to start integrating what I learn in my yoga classes into a home practice.
  • I just don’t know where to start.
  • I just don’t know how to continue.
  • How do I stop myself from quitting?

All of the above can be boiled down to: How can I make sure that I get on the mat as much as and to the degree that I need to?

I am thrilled to, in a workshop format, be able to answer this question.

Here’s the workshop description:

This 2-hour-long workshop will equip you with the skills, inspiration, and knowledge to lead your own yoga classes for your own beautiful selves and bodies. DIY Yoga will empower you to create your own home practice for those days when classes don’t fit into your schedule or for when you want to freestyle it on your mat, but safely and effectively. Together, we will move, breathe, and discuss the best and most effective ways for starting your own practice and moving like yourself.

In the comments, please tell me: What questions do you have when it comes to crafting a home yoga practice?