Tuesdays are one of my heaviest teaching days. Tuesdays are also my Fridays, the end of my work week with Wednesday as my day off, so I have a little less energy to start with. I teach in the morning and early afternoon, have a four hour break in the middle of the day, then teach until fairly late at night. I usually spend the four hour chunk of time obsessing over a ridiculously long to-do-list I have compiled for myself. That to-do-list almost always includes editing work and chores.
Yesterday, for the first time, I decided to just let myself be. Sure I had a student’s thesis that needed to be edited, a description of a new yoga class I will be teaching next month needed to be submitted, new playlists for my classes needed to be made, my own writing projects were in need of some serious attention, my winter clothes needed to be re-integrated into my closet and my spring and summer clothes needed to be stashed away for next year. Instead of forcing myself to tackle any of these, or feeling guilty and beating myself up because I was too tired to fully tackle all of these projects, I tuned in and really listened to what my body was asking for. Turns out I needed a leisurely lunch, some time to relax on the couch reading, a gentle yoga practice filled with breath work and stretching, and a little bit of time watching a mind-numbing show on hulu. After all of that I felt ready to tackle the student’s thesis, so I actually got to tick one thing off my to-do-list. I also felt ready and refreshed to teach my night classes.
What I realized yesterday is that I do not actually give myself credit for the amount of work I do. Teaching does not feel like work to me. I love teaching and it leaves me feeling fulfilled and energized. It also takes a lot of energy, physically and mentally. I am standing the whole time, large portions of each class are spent physically adjusting people, most of whom are larger than I am. I have to stay acutely aware of what is happening in each moment. More often than not I will plan a class only to realize that the bodies I am watching need something vastly different. Editing, while a very sedentary form of work I often do at home in my pajamas, is work that requires a great deal of mental energy. I, like so many others, have been conditioned to believe work should be, well, work. Work does not have to feel like an obligation, a draining, unenjoyable necessity. Work can, and in my opinion, should be enjoyable, something that contributes to one’s overall sense of wellbeing, not just one’s bank account.
After months and months of struggling with my Tuesday afternoon break I have come to the understanding that I need that break. It was unrealistic to think I could work from 10:30am-9:30pm. Teaching yoga is work and I need to take care of myself when I have breaks between classes so that I can more fully give to my students. Editing is also work and I need to be rested and fully alert to do it well. I have managed to create and find work that I do not hate and that does not feel like work, but it is still work. Giving myself breaks and time to take care of myself are necessities not frivolous wastes of time.