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This Week’s Yoga Readings + Playlist: On Taking Care

Last week I shared that I’m going to start posting my weekly readings/discussion topics that I use for my yoga classes. I thought that in addition to that I will also post my playlist. Many of you have told me that you enjoy seeing my playlists (students, fellow teachers and readers looking for new music) so the reading + playlist post will be a new weekly thing here.

The topic for this weekend’s classes was self-care. This is something that I frequently bring up in with students in regards to how important it is to carve out time in their busy days to make it to their mat and how they should never feel guilty for doing that. So much happens when we slow down and spend time in introspection instead of functioning in constant go mode. Sometimes it scares the crap out of us to slow down and allow there to be space but that space gives us the ability to get clear about many things.

I started my classes by reading the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.


And I ended class with excerpts from this blog post from Tiny Buddha, “What It Means to Really Take Care of Yourself.”

On the inside, I buried vulnerability. I played the resilience card. I sought out quick-fixes. And I convinced myself I was okay. I wasn’t taking care of myself emotionally at all. Unconsciously, I placed “I’ll deal with it later” labels on several situations when they’d trickled into my life unplanned. Somewhere along the overachieving path of seeking perfection and always looking into the future, I lost myself when these labels accumulated.

I managed to forget how to take care of my inner world.

After neglecting what was really going on in my life, I ended up in a curled up ball in our bedroom corner, head buried in my knees, feeling a heavy amount of pain all at once. Humans are amazing, though; we adapt, we heal, we are capable of growing stronger.

When we acknowledge that changes, challenges, and hardships are there to deepen us, to remind us that we do get second chances, and that we are each made up of love, compassion, and healing, something remarkable happens.

When we take the time to re-connect with ourselves, replace our fears with trust, and learn to let go of the things we cannot control, this is taking care.

When we listen to our intuition, embrace all of our imperfections, and stay authentic to who we are, this is taking care.

When we ground ourselves in the present and make mental space to find clarity, this is taking care.

When we discover our interior barriers and find courage to dissolve them, this is taking care.

When we learn to be gentle with ourselves, this is truly taking care.

It is your duty to yourself to nurture and care for your spirit, heart and body. No one else is going to do that for you. It’s not selfish to spend time in activities like yoga, meditation, travel, walks, retreats, classes, taking yourself to a movie, hikes, reading, savoring a treat, WHATEVER works for you. Rather, it’s essential for your growth, authenticity and happiness so that you can participate fully in your own existence and show up lighting up the world with your gifts. We have to love and take care of ourselves before we can do it for anyone else.

And here’s this week’s playlist.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 2.11.55 PM

I LOVE THIS PLAYLIST! “Deliver Me” is an amazing savasana song and went perfectly with the taking care theme of the class.

How do you take care? It’s a daily struggle for me to slow down, listen and create space but I’m doing some serious personal work around getting better taking care. My recommitment to my ashtanga practice has been one of my biggest acts of taking care recently. Also, making time to visit family, spending more time with friends and trusting to be more open and emotionally available to those who love and care about me!

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun April 13, 2014, 3:47 pm

    I agree with you I have to remind myself to slow down and RELAX. So often the things in my life that are supposed to be relaxing aren’t because I can’t slow down. I think it is essential to relax and enjoy the moments of the day.

  • Julianna @ Julianna Bananna April 13, 2014, 4:34 pm

    love that you have dan + shay on your playlist!

  • Pamela April 13, 2014, 4:42 pm

    Wow Jen I REALLY needed this. I have a tear in my rotator cuff and can’t practice for a whole. I’m trying yin yoga but so miss my power yoga flows. That was
    My main way I took care of myself so I am trying new things: journaling and meditation. It’s a struggle and I am seeing the ways that I cover up my feelings rather than feel them. Interesting lessons as always. Thank you for these words and your fun playlists! I have been all about Lindsey Stirling and Owl City in my classes. Xoxo

  • hillary | nutrition nut on the run April 13, 2014, 6:52 pm

    such a beautiful photo of you in dancer. just lovely!

  • Claire April 13, 2014, 8:43 pm

    Beautiful post. Thank you for this.

  • Jojo @ RunFastEatLots April 13, 2014, 9:41 pm

    I try to go out of my way to make time for my family and friends. It’s so easy to be “too busy” to meet up, and then time flies by. Before you know it, it’s been too long and you lose touch. I am trying to reconnect with my friends, if possible, in person.

  • Nicole April 14, 2014, 12:41 am

    These are my new favorite posts! It can often be challenging to find yoga teachers both spiritually and physically challenging so I really enjoyed this…Thanks for sharing!

  • Rebekah {aCricketSang} April 14, 2014, 8:08 am

    Thank you for posting these 🙂

  • Liz F. April 14, 2014, 12:39 pm

    Last year was rough for me, but instead of handling everything that was happening I shut it down so I could seem strong. So I guess, for now at least, my taking care is dealing with and forgiving everything that happened this past year.

  • tara April 15, 2014, 1:10 pm

    working out and yoga in particular is the main way i take care of myself. i also found asking those few people who really care about me for help has made a world of difference. i say and ask for what i need. if someone wants to “help” me in a way that really isnt help i say it. when people ask if i need help i say yes. when i’m asked to do something i really don’t want to do i try to say no if i can. learning to say “yes” and “no” at the right times has really helped me to focus on what i want and need and not let that be up to everyone else. its my job to make me happy and people who really care about you really do want to help you. saying no to a gathering i dont want to go to to go to a yoga class instead used to make me feel guilty, now it makes me feel good about myself ! the only bad thing i do is when ive had a hard day or a long day i always turn to food. i need to stop that !

  • Angel April 16, 2014, 3:44 am

    Hi Jen,
    I enjoy your playlists so much I thought I would share some music that I love and think would be great for you.

    Forget by Lianne La Havas. (Everything by her is fantastic!)
    Waste of Time by MO
    Sunrise by Yeasayer

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