“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other.”
~Henry David Thoreau
I recently met a fellow ashtangi who is also a first year medical student in New York. She asked for advice on keeping up a yoga practice during medical school… and I need help coming up with a good answer.
How does ANYONE keep up a yoga practice through sleep deprivation, stress, exhaustion, emotional highs and lows (be it from graduate school, a demanding job, a break-up, new motherhood, etc)? It’s during these times that we especially need to make time for a daily practice.
Here are some things that helped me maintain some sort of yoga practice over the past few years... it’s a list I’ll have to keep adding to as I have to figure it out all over again next year as an intern:
- Get up in the early morning for a home practice. No matter how early! If you have to be at the hospital at 5:30, get up at 3:30... you may be tired at first but it will transform the rest of the day.
- Make a little cup of coffee before practice. After such sleep deprivation I would honestly not have been able to practice without this.
- Do a long practice at a studio on your days off. This makes all the difference! A home practice is really hard to maintain and having a weekly "tune-up" with a teacher/ yoga community is key.
- Find like-minded friends. It may take a while to find them but they are out there! Crank up the heat and practice together at home (especially when the studio is closed). Do “partner yoga” sessions and experiment with new things.
- Listen to your body and do the practice you need. Some days just sit, some days focus on second series, some days do more backbends or inversions... know what you need.
- Take staycations. When you do get some precious vacation days, spend some time at home doing yoga, sleeping, eating well. Staycations are the best vacations :)
- Do weekend workshops when possible. Take advantage of teachers when they come to you (you can learn a lot during one intense weekend).
- Don't hide your yoga practice from your other worlds. This is what I did for the first couple years of medical school (not sure where this came from – I guess I was afraid of what people would think), but by my 3rd year I stopped hiding it. I realized there are LOTS of people out there who do yoga or want to do yoga... so keep writing, talking, sharing, and build up the yoga community around you!