Are you a tea drinker? Is it a part of a daily habit or ritual for you?
Okay, so in light of everything going on in the US and around the world, there are certainly larger issues we could tackle this week. But I want to support you in your life journey, so I wanted to take a moment to celebrate an easy and delightful bit of self-care and ritual: tea!
Lots of cultures value tea highly, and drinking it is often a daily norm. But for many of us in the U.S., we come to tea later in life. Who knows – maybe it goes back to the tea party before the Revolutionary War, but for whatever reason, many of us do not grow up drinking tea.
My experience with tea was that it was a thing for “grown ups”. As a young Brownie (a Girl Scout), I attended my first tea party at age six and loved it, but we didn’t drink tea in my home growing up. In college, I had access to tea and housemates who drank it, so I would experiment with a cup of tea sometimes. But it really wasn’t until I was an adult seeking “afternoon tea”, aka a three course meal paired with tea, that I developed my passion for it.
With COVID-19, I found myself seeking additional ways to ground and center myself each day. I had a great morning routine, but I felt it might be getting stale. When Sarah Jenkins suggested adding tea or coffee to our morning routine or sacred start, I knew this was the perfect excuse to up my tea intake and feel like I was truly indulging.
Now, I carve out an extra 10-15 minutes each morning to steep and enjoy some tea. Some days it’s black, some days it’s herbal, some days it has milk or sugar in it. But it always delights. It forces me to pause, to savor. I pair it with a sacred or reflective book and enjoy a slow and beautiful start to my morning before the workday begins.
Tea comes in so many forms, and in so many flavors. You can keep it super healthy or sweeten it up. (This morning I made a candy cane latte…oh my goodness it was good!)
And if you don’t like any teas, you can enjoy a similar ritual, whether it’s coffee or another drink (something warm is ideal for the winter months).
I guess when I’m suggesting you make time for tea, what I’m really suggesting is that you make time for yourself. Finding a few minutes to pause is so therapeutic. You start your day centered instead of off balance, calm instead of rushed. Even if I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to do, I would make it happen. (In fact, I get up at 4:45 a.m. once a week, but that’s another story.)
Today I’m celebrating a huge milestone – I’ve been a yogini (a female practitioner of yoga) for twenty years!!!
I realize this post is going to age me a bit, but I am so stinkin’ proud that twenty years later, I have a consistent yoga practice and continue to feel the effects that yoga has brought to my life.
I first tried yoga at age sixteen. I went to a private day school in middle and high school (founded by hippies, very pricey, super privileged for sure) and we were required to play sports to fulfill the state’s gym requirement. In the fall of my junior year, the nurse offered yoga as a sports elective, and I was thrilled to do that instead of field hockey (which I loved, but which took up far too much of my otherwise available for theater and music time).
I quickly learned that I already had a great deal of flexibility, which would suit me well, and I also found it tough but enjoyable to sit in silence and close my eyes, particularly around my classmates and friends.
When the nurse decided not to offer it the following year, I was pretty devastated. But I was able to design my own sport by taking yoga and aerobics classes at my local gym instead. I was exposed to several different teachers, realizing that there are lots of styles and approaches to yoga, and some of it is much more strenuous than others.
So began my yoga journey! I’d stretch a bit and try poses on my own, but my class consumption varied widely during college. After college, I picked up a yoga video and then found myself gravitating toward other forms of exercise that incorporated some yoga into the mix. (Yes, Yoga Booty Ballet, I’m looking at you!!! My one and only informercial purchase!)
Over the years, I took advantage of free or affordable yoga whenever possible. A class at a retreat I was working. A series of classes at the same church I accompanied services for. And during my one and only corporate-like stint working at a co-op, I took advantage of the once per week, $5 yoga classes.
When we hit the road in late 2016 in our RV, I was armed with my favorite workout series to date (ChaLean Extreme will date me again) which included some yoga in the mix. I also began experimenting with yoga videos on Amazon Prime and Netflix – I’d download them to my phone when we had good wifi.
In 2018, my husband Ross (with my booking assistance) began improvising music live for yoga classes. This was an incredible gift, because in addition to making money from each of the attendees (shared with the instructor and studio), I got to attend the classes for free! That meant that for a long stretch, I got to take about one yoga class per month, each with a new instructor. The project even inspired Ross to record an ambient music album perfect for relaxation, meditation and yoga. (Link here)
With COVID-19, we have had to put our in-person yoga efforts aside, but the incredible gift of the pandemic for me (if I can say that) has been developing a more consistent yoga practice. My instructor, Tracy, was one of my favorite instructors from almost ten years back at that church job. Nowadays she teaches lessons remotely, so her Vermont location is no problem for me, and her suggested fees are extremely reasonable (and there’s no charge if it’s a hardship for you). (Link to her)
Being in a tiny RV, I can’t do yoga unless my husband is awake and about, but I’ve nevertheless gotten into a routine of yoga and meditation three nights per week, and it has been essential to my stress management, particularly over the last several months as tensions have heightened, from racial justice issues to politics and more. I’ve also tried a few other instructors when my schedule allows, and I’ve experimented a bit with free meditations too.
Previous to the pandemic, I struggled to make yoga a consistent part of my routine. I had no problem doing some stretches before bed, and I always loved the time I gave it, but since it doesn’t feel like “exercise” in the same way that some other forms of movement do, I always made it an extra, if I have time sort of thing.
What I’ve realized this year is that I am much more prepared to face the world when yoga is a mandatory part of my routine. And I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to set that time aside, and that Tracy has made it so affordable. (I even do yoga on those days when she takes time off! It’s now that much of a habit.)
So today I celebrate twenty years of yoga, but not just that – I celebrate twenty years of continuing to fine-tune my practice and develop consistency in my health habits. Habits are a cornerstone of my life and work, and I’m so thankful to have realized how essential yoga is to that for me.
Have you tried yoga? How did/do you like it?
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