Category Archives: The Middle Way

New Year’s Resolution: Cutting Back

At my last job, during one of my performance reviews, my manager said that I needed to learn to push back against people who ask me to do too much. He says I have a habit of trying to take on more than I should. I never thought that it was a bad thing to want to do more, but I’ve come to realize that it’s a fast track to burn out.

I have spent the 2014 saying “yes” to more (yoga) sub requests and social engagements than I probably should have. I was perpetually glued to my phone and overstimulated by social feeds, news and emails. Towards the end, I started to cringe at the thought doing things that I used to look forward to – just doing yoga, rock climbing with friends, talking with students/friends/people.

At the end of the 2014, I took a trip to South America – land of beautiful landscapes and crap Internet. With the lack of Internet, TV and many modern conveniences, I was forced to unplug and just enjoy being. Enjoy being in nature, biking in the moment, laughing at jokes and suffering through some uncomfortable situations (yes, even those are enjoyable.)

I’ve noticed since I’ve been back I have a lot more enthusiasm to do the things I was once dreading. I’m happy to talk to people again and be social.

In lieu of waiting for my future meltdown (insert references to many celebrity meltdowns), I’m going to spend the next year saying “no” a little more liberally.

What do you plan for the new year?

Photo: Playing with perception on the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. Quite literally blowing things off. Seemed suitable.

Overtraining + Learning to Relax

I’m not sure exactly when I realized I was overtraining – it does manifest itself differently for different people.

It could have been when my muscles continued to feel sore days on end no matter how much time I took off.
It could have been the weight gain (ok, ok, it wasn’t a ton of weight, but it was definitely the heaviest I have ever been) and the increase in body fat (mostly belly fat.)
It could have been the constant feeling of being unbearably cold at work (admittedly, it is super cold in general at work, but it felt arctic.)

In some ways, even though I knew that I was overtraining, I couldn’t stop pushing myself, lest I become weaker. In some ways, maybe I was addicted to the constant high intensity aspect of my regimen. I wasn’t listening to my body [the complete anti-thesis of what yogis preach.] I did try to cut back, but after a day or two of rest, I was antsy to get back to the yoga studio or the climbing gym.

Relaxing halfway up our hike to Sugarloaf. I guess it was a fairly brutal hike, but we rested lots and I had a lot of fun...
Relaxing halfway up our hike to Sugarloaf. I guess it was a fairly brutal hike, but we rested lots and I had a lot of fun. Stayed active without stressing out my heart and spiking those cortisol levels.

During my last vacation, I was limited to 2 whole yoga classes over a course of 2 weeks and lots of walking and hiking. The minimal high-intensity and large quantity of low-impact exercise reset my system. Coming back from my trip, I noticed that I was no longer freezing at work. I had managed to shed the excess weight that had crept on the previous year. I came back to my physical practice stronger.

Now my exercise routine is a lot less intense than it used to be. I used to teach yoga, take power yoga and then go rock-climbing all in one day. I beat my body with intense forms of yoga 5-6 times, climbed 3+ times and did whatever I could to just keep moving. I’ve cut everything in half and just try to get some simple low impact exercise (walking around a lot more) and it works perfectly for me.

Of course, this will vary from person to person. I have a co-worker who can run marathons without training and be 100% okay. Good for him. I would probably die (possibly, literally.)

This was all a recent occurrence/discovery (~2 months ago) so we’ll see how this sticks. If you don’t see me around the yoga studio, I may just be taking a simple walk around the neighborhood or just playing around with some simple yoga at home. I do encourage daily movement, but it doesn’t always have to push you past your boundaries every day. [I am chuckling now because if you had asked me 3 years ago, I would vouched for daily butt-whooping.] Learn to take care of yourself. For some, it means more exercise. For others (like me), I need to learn to relax.

Inhale, Exhale, Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I have a habit of overplanning things in an effort to mitigate any potential problems on the horizon. I try to overprepare and live with the container of the box I created.

Unfortunately, I married a fly by the seat of his pants/live in the moment/carpe diem kind of guy.

Well, crap, now what?

Neither extreme is particularly good. In my world, the rigidity of my plans leaves little room for the pop-ups that happen during our lives, trips, whatever. Something new and exciting may come up unexpectedly, but I am tied to my decisions. On the other hand, living in the moment completely may lead to a directionless soul.

As with most things in life, there are fluctuations in all directions in our moods, perceptions and choices. If the world and all of it’s inhabitants were completely perfect, then the middle ground would be easily attainable. But that wouldn’t be fun would it?

If what I wrote made absolutely no sense, I’m just saying that I need to learn to not be overwhelmed by spontaneity and overstimulation and he needs to enjoy the humdrum life. In both cases, we just need to breathe.