For the last 18 years of my 22 years as a yoga teacher, my schedule has included traveling some 250 days a year. I’ve been to 48 out of 50 states and visited more than 35 countries, which means I’m on countless airplanes and in as many hotel rooms; I wake up jet-lagged most mornings, trying to recall which city I’m in. Then, I push the furniture against the walls to do yoga.
Don’t get me wrong: To say it’s an honor to be able to share my passion for yoga with so many is an understatement. I am in the unique position of being able to do exactly what I love, travel the world, meet new and wonderful people, and make a living while doing it. Yet about a year ago, I started using the word “exhausted” a lot when asked how I was doing, and I was getting sick more frequently. I was resistant to seeing friends when I was home, telling them I wanted to “conserve my energy.” It was clear to me that I could not sustain this nonstop schedule.
What’s more, I turn 50 this year, and I’m a big believer in honoring the milestone moments in life. This is an opportunity to look backward and forward at the same time. I wanted to take time to reflect on what I’ve learned spiritually and emotionally, and to see if there are some ideas or beliefs I need to tend to, understand better, or let go of. So I began to rearrange my schedule to include taking a four-month sabbatical at my home in Los Angeles. My intention is to step into this next level of maturity with a lot of awareness and proudly embrace my role as a mentor and leader in a way that I might not have had the confidence to do as a younger teacher. In order for me to approach this process consciously, it’s important to take time to “check in” by meeting with some of my old teachers, reflecting, processing, and fully opening myself to whatever is next on my path.
As I write this, I’m in the middle of my sabbatical, doing for myself what I teach others to do: practicing self-care and taking time for deep personal reflection. We must all do so in order to be balanced, grounded, open, and harmonious in our work and relationships. Whether you have four months or four hours is ultimately irrelevant. What is important is that you create a doable regimen that supports your health and wellness—emotionally, physically, and spiritually—and commit to it regularly.
With each passing day of my sabbatical, I feel healthier and more grounded and inspired. I know that this replenishment will have a huge and positive impact on my teaching. What that impact might be I am not investigating right now. In this moment, I’m enjoying the deep rest that comes when you take true time off and turn your attention inward, toward what is important: the relationship you have with yourself, with others, with the planet, and with God.
See also Seane Corn: Social Justice + Game Changers