What's It Mean to "Carve Out Time" for Yoga?
In light of balancing yoga with everything else in life, what does that really mean?
I move a lot. Subsequently, even though I’ve been at some wonderful yoga studios that I hated to leave, I’ve taken yoga classes at six different studios since I started practicing in 2018. Every studio I've been to had a distinct style and personality; some even taught completley unique yoga styles.
There’s been a commonality at every studio I’ve been to, almost down to the exact words spoken by dozens of different instructors.
“You have carved out this time for your practice.”
I hear it all the time. Carve out time. What does that really mean though?
Is it just fluff?
It’s poetic, it’s easy for you to appreciate the word choice. It does point out just how hard it is to make time to practice self-care. There’s ample data out there and dozens of statistics that can justify practicing self-care through exercise, diet, and relaxing activities. Yoga can hit two of those nails on the head.
Despite that, we hear the words “self-care” thrown around more and more every year. It’s an excellent movement, but that begs the question — is this just a trend?
When people say self-care as casually as they say Starbucks, Shainna Ali, PhD, with Psychology Today, took a hard look at whether or not self-care is just a trend. It’s a big question; there are thousands of companies making millions of dollars off of our desire to take care of ourselves. It may be a trendy topic, but self-care is important for everyone to practice. Part of practicing self-care is making time to do things that help your body and mind.
Making time for yoga is an act of self-care.
It might be trendy right now to talk about self-care, but the more serious side of it is developing habits that you can maintain for your entire life. What you do to take care of yourself needs to be sustainable. If you’re barely tolerating it, then the habits won’t stock. We need to take care of our bodies, whether we like it or not.
Even if you don’t have a big goal like losing weight or building muscle, simply moving your body, stretching your muscles, and becoming more flexible will help you feel better in the long run.
The fact that yoga is healthy is well-proven; yoga has a plethora of benefits beyond the mat. It’s an act of self-care since it can help you both physically and emotionally. But like all good things, yoga takes time.
If I were to say that there’s any drawback to yoga, it’s that practicing often is a serious time commitment. When life gets busy, it gets harder to carve out time for it, as so many teachers like to say.
Yoga is meant to be a practice you continuously develop.
The nature of yoga lends it to being a long-haul game. Alignment is important to every pose, but it takes a lot of practice, listening, and learning to truly master even the simplest of poses.
That’s why it’s okay to learn yoga slowly; practice as often as you can, but let yourself learn at your own pace. There’s no rush to try things that you genuinely aren’t ready for yet.
When I first started out, I felt like people who could fold themselves into pretzels were showing off. I didn’t understand yoga at all and I had absolutely no comprehension of how much strength it takes to hold a complicated pose. It’s not just flexibility; you need to have muscle, too. The kind of strength you need for postures like flying pigeon takes years to develop; it’s nothing to take lightly.
In conjunction with developing your practice, you develop your time management.
This is the less poetic way to talk about the fact that you do need to “carve out time for yoga.” It's really hard to make time for something that is about you. It's hard to prioritize yourself when there are so many others who need your time as well.
Ultimately, you’re working on your time management skills. First, you’re choosing to make time for you. Second, you’re figuring out how to continuously make that time.
It’s not quite as fun and indulgent sounding when you look at it this way, but this is a helpful mindset for the more pragmatic minds out there. Self-care is often time-consuming. Doing things to improve your overall health will take time.Quick fixes tend not to be the biggest meaningful changes we can make in our lives.
Carving out time is a continuous commitment.
It’s more than just your commitment to practicing yoga, it’s also about making that time commitment even when your life changes.
At one point, I was working nine-hour shifts with no breaks and driving for two and a half hours per day. On a bad day, it’d be three hours. At another point, I went back to a pleasant eight-hour day, but I had a four-and-a-half-hour commute via mass transit.
In either scenario, I didn’t have a lot of time. Despite those constraints, I was able to find a yoga class that still worked for my schedule, at 7:30pm at night. Did I feel like going to yoga when I hadn’t eaten dinner yet and ran around since 5am? Not really.
Did I feel amazing after class? Every single time.
Before I sound any more like a credit card commercial talking about experiences being priceless, I’ll stop. Your life is always changing. Your obligations are always pulling you in different directions, whether it’s work, family, friends, pets, or anything else. “Carving out time for yoga” is serious business; despite those other demands in life, you’re still finding ways to squeeze in time for yourself and your body. That’s the true meaning of carving out time for your practice.