Before I started teaching Ayurveda as my full time job, I was wound tight in the corporate world. My work day consisted of a 3-hour daily commute to San Francisco, I ran a division of a company, managed a team of eight, came home to a toddler, husband and 2 dogs. And! I was writing and illustrating my book at night.
Oof! I was scheduled down to the micro-minute, from my 5:30am wake up until I fell on my face in bed at 10pm, often times even later.
After about 6 months of that craziness I started to feel like utter crap. My mind was scattered and forgetful (more so than usual), I was frustrated often, my energy was tanking, my emotions were all over the place, and my body became a shape that wasn’t mine. I started to dread my days — and that’s not like me.
Among the busy-ness, my daily exercise, meditation and breathing practices came to a halt. I was so busy I didn’t even realize the practices fell out of my life until I started to fall apart. To have full presence for my family and work, I had to get my mind and emotions under control.
As an Ayurvedic expert, I knew one of the fastest ways to change the mind is to move the body.
In Ayurveda, the mind is the control center and one of the ways we manage the mind is by moving the body (mind, body, spirit are all connected). The body needs to expend energy and sweat — it’s a waste product — in order for the mind to find calm, focus, and peace. If the body doesn’t move, we get an agitated monkey mind.
But where could I fit in a work out every day? Impossible! Wait, nothing is impossible.
Each morning I walked the dogs, so I thought, “What if I just turned that into a run?” Only one of my fur babies was a runner and one was not, which meant I had to make it short n’ fast so I could come back and get the other one for a walk. But, I figured a 10 minute run was better than nothing.
So my dog, Blossom, and I began. We would run to the edge of the pier, I’d see San Francisco glistening across the water and I’d give the city a soul salute (instead of the finger), “See you soon!” and we’d turn around and run back. Mind you, this was not a light jog, this was a fast run with full intent to use my body like a machine, breathe out stress, ignite little sweat, and create some fun for Blossom, too.
That little 10 minutes changed everything.
I started to feel better, like, that day. So, I started to look for other ways to sneak in life-enhancing practices. I added 3 sets of 10 pushups and squats (upper body! lower body! done!) which took no longer than 5 minutes. Instead of checking email, I began practicing meditation on the bus. Instead of scowling, I started journaling my gratitudes on the train ride home. I did pranayama in the evenings to calm my mind and clear channels. Eventually, my team and I booked a conference room every Friday morning for breathing and meditation before our production meeting. And I got permission to work one day a week from home. Huzzah!
Just 10 minutes sparked all that awesomeness!
5 tips for daily exercise success:
• Keep it short and daily,10-20 minutes. Consistency is key. Do not dismiss that 10 minutes a day sounds too easy to work. If it’s more than you are doing now, you’re ahead, you win!
• Something you enjoy, but is challenging. Choose something you like, for example the outdoors, your dog, yoga, punching air, dancing. No joke, I’ve started my clients with 5 minutes of dancing and it changes their world. Just make sure you work hard! It should feel like fun work for a short amount of time.
• No equipment. All you need is your body or maybe a pair of sneakers. The more equipment you need to do the thing, the more complex it will be and the less likely you will do anything. It could take 10 minutes just to gather your stuff! Your body is the equipment.
• Sweat inducing. Work hard enough to achieve a mini sweat. Ayurveda considers sweat a waste product (just like poop and pee) so we need to expel some of it every day. Not drenched. Sweat in your pits and on your nose is all you need.
• Full focus and inner cheerleader! If it’s hard at first, good! That means you’re changing. Bring full focus to your actions and channel your inner dialogue to cheer you on! That’s where you’ll feel the grip of being alive!
You got this! Even the busiest schedule can squeeze in 10 minutes to move our bodies. Where will you fit it in? Fair warning: you might get swept up in a flurry of other inspirational changes that could darn well change your life.