I always chuckle during the airline safety announcements when they get to the part about putting your own mask on first before assisting others. There is usually an image of a smiling woman putting on her mask while her grinning children sit waiting patiently for assistance.

When I was younger, this seemed reasonable, but once I began flying with my own children, I started to find it amusing. First of all, children don’t sit quietly smiling on airplanes (at least not mine), but more importantly, I wondered if I would be able to do it — leave my children without oxygen while I fiddled with getting my own sustenance in place.

The more I thought about it, the more it reminded me of my Bikram yoga practice.

Practicing Bikram yoga is time consuming — 90 minutes for class, plus showering and travel time can take two to three hours each day. That is a large investment of time and energy. But I make this investment so I can be my better self — healthier, calmer, stronger and more balanced in my approach to the rest of the day. It is selfish time, but also selfless time, as a better me benefits everyone around me. It’s like my son said to me in my early days of my Bikram yoga practice, “Mom, please go to Bikram so we can all have a better day.”

It is also a challenging practice. Ninety minutes of sweat and discomfort are a lot to take some days. Sometimes in the opening breathing exercise I curse myself for showing up. What was I thinking coming to class when my legs are already sore or I didn’t get enough sleep or I am fighting a cold? But once class is over, I never regret attending. I always feel better than when I started, even if I spent part of the class sitting on my mat. The burst of energy, the contentment and sense of accomplishment from class is a great reward.

So back to the original airplane question — would I put my mask on first leaving my children without oxygen while I fortified myself? The answer is yes. It is the smarter approach. The safer approacher. And the one that shows true love for their well being. Keeping myself safe and focused is the best way that I can help them, both on an airplane, and in real life. If I am healthy, I am there to help them with their masks and also for whatever comes next.

Thank you Bikram yoga for this great training.

Readers, do you put your mask on first?

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Originally published at hotoffthemat.com on October 18, 2016.

Originally published at medium.com