Guest post: Speed up by slowing down
I learn something every single time I step onto my yoga mat. Sometimes it’s an incredible new lesson. Sometimes it’s simply a gentle reminder. But it never fails and I always step off the mat more inspired and connected than when I started. I’ll be guest blogging each month to share my latest lesson from the mat with Kristin’s community.
Lessons from the mat: Slowing down will help you speed up
You know when you have so much to do that the only thing you actually do is wish for more hours in the day? I know this feeling all too well. I used to eat, breathe, and sleep this feeling. There is something suffocating about long to-do lists, competing priorities, and the general chaos of the day.
If you’re like me (and most people), when you get really busy you likely say things like: “I don’t have time to work out. I’ll just grab takeout because I’m too busy to cook. I guess I’ll just stay up late to get this done. I can’t waste time meditating, I have stuff to do!” We stop doing the very things that can help us manage overwhelm and feel energized and productive.
One of my greatest lessons from the mat has been that by slowing down, I can actually speed up. When I first began my yoga practice I couldn’t keep up. Sun salutations felt like they were in fast-motion and I was 10 steps behind. The more I tried to “keep up” the more behind I found myself. Until one day when I decided that I was just going to flow at my own pace and if that meant I did 3 rounds when everyone else did 10 that was enough. I turned my attention and intention inward – not looking around at my classmates or listening to the teacher – and did my own thing. Slow and steady. I was in the flow, feeling strong, and looked around to discover that I was keeping pace with the class. All it took was the intention to slow down before I was able to get up to speed.
This has been the most important lesson I’ve learned and it extends well beyond my yoga mat. Slowing down has the ability to expand time. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the form of an extended child’s pose, going to bed early, taking a leisurely walk, or sitting in meditation. By breathing and giving yourself permission to pause, you create space for action. Even one minute of slowing down can give you the clarity to move forward. It stops overwhelm in its tracks.
3 simple tools for slowing down (to speed up)
Start your day with ease
The way you start your morning has a direct impact on how you experience the rest of the day. If you wake up already feeling behind, checking email as soon as you open your eyes, rushing, and frenetic, it’s likely that your day is going to be chaotic. Instead, keep your phone in airplane mode until you leave the house, slowly sip tea or hot water and lemon, meditate for a few minutes, write morning pages, or move through a few sun salutations. Give yourself permission to breathe and move slowly in the morning.
Peace begins with you
This is one of my favorite Kundalini meditations because I can bust it out anywhere, anytime. I do it while sitting in traffic, in the checkout line, in the office, and on airplanes. It’s the first thing I do when I start to feel stuck, overwhelmed or anxious. By focusing on this simple but powerful mantra I am able to clear my mind.
Gently press your thumb against your index finger, then your middle finger, then your ring finger, then your pinkie finger.
When you touch your index finger, say: PEACE
When you touch your middle finger, say: BEGINS
When you touch your ring finger, say: WITH
When you touch your pinkie finger, say: ME
Breathe deeply as you say (or silently recite) each word. You can do one round or as many as it takes to calm the chaos and release tension.
Get it all out
One of my favorite ways to banish overwhelm and slow my mind down in order to focus is to write it out. I’ll grab my journal, a random piece of scrap paper, or the notes on my phone and just write down everything bouncing around my brain – all of the to-dos, worries, dreams, and ideas. Often times what is holding us back from action is competing thoughts and lack of clarity. I love emptying my mind right before bed. I’m able to drift off to sleep without the chatter of to-dos and daily worries. As a result I wake up more refreshed and ready to tackle the items I listed out the night before.
Try these simple tools for slowing down and watch time expand!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!