Thursday, January 5, 2012

Filling the Yoga Bucket

I have talked about the yoga bucket before (here, here, and here), so I thought it might be a good idea to actually explain what I mean, and there is no better time than the beginning of the year to think about refilling the yoga bucket.

I like to think of my yoga practice as a way to create a nice reserve of sanity when things get too difficult. It serves other purposes, for sure, but when the insanity of the outside world hits, it is nice to have had a solid yoga practice. When the outside world is not too hectic, it is easier to find time to do a practice, whatever your practice is. Thus, you can enter the world that a practice makes easier, a calmer, less stressful world. When the stress hits, you have some reserves on which to fall back before the stress overtakes your life.

Of course, the bucket is only so big, and eventually, if you are not refilling it, the bucket empties out, and the stress can overtake your once peaceful existence. Many of us live in this state constantly. Instead of our bodies and minds entering the world of stress and then coming out of it, the cortisone keeps pumping, and we stay in the stress response. Once the bucket is empty and the stress response keeps coming, we enter a state of dis-ease. Sure enough, that state eventually leads to disease.

So what can we do about this before the disease hits and while we still have one or two little drops of sanity left in the bucket? The signs are usually there. Does your body hurt more than usual? Are you yelling at loved ones more than usual? Are you getting emotional more than usual? Do you feel like you are just trying to live moment to moment and day to day seems like too much? Those are just some of the warning signs.

You probably know them, so what do we do about them? How can we refill the bucket when there is no time for retreats and vacations? How can we refill the bucket when there is no time to breathe let alone think?

Take five minutes and sit. Seriously!

Five minutes seems like a lot of time and not a lot of time. When we have a deadline, five minutes feels like an instant. When we sit to do nothing, it feels like an eternity. It seems like a lot of time you could be doing work, stressing about the family issues, or reorganizing the to-do list. But those five minutes might just gain you twenty later on. Five minutes per day begins to refill the bucket. Even one minute at the moment when the stress feels the heaviest can be the minute that brings us twenty later on.

But we have to listen.

I could be the poster child for the empty bucket this week. Although I was essentially on vacation for 4 weeks at the end of my time in New Zealand, I was living in dorm rooms and not doing my practice as much as I would have liked. My daily meditation practice had become a sporadic, and often spastic, affair. Upon my return to the United States on December 11, I had little time to acclimate before driving from Northern California to Phoenix and then heading to Tucson to start work.

And work has been stress central. The job is great, but the learning curve is not just steep, it feels like Baldwin Street in Dunedin (where I was living in New Zealand), the steepest street in the world. I have been running in all directions, attempting to meet dozens of new clients, attend hearings, prepare for trials, and still acclimate to being back in Tucson, a place I have not lived for 2.5 years. On top of all that, I have not been living in my own place. I am incredibly lucky to be living with wonderful family, but the lack of “me”-time is taking its toll. I even started to feel a wee bit sick, and I cannot remember the last time I got sick.

Luckily, I recognized this a few days ago and made “refilling the yoga bucket” the theme on the Is Yoga Legal Facebook page. This week, I have restarted, very slowly, my home asana practice, restarted my meditation practice, and tried to use the hours of driving between home visits as an opportunity for pranayama and reflection. I feel like I’m back to bottom, and now it is time to start refilling the reserves. One very slow step at a time.

I guess this post is partially to say that it is easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. My reserves dried out. There is no question about that. But even writing this gives me hope and faith that they will slowly start to refill.

The next post will talk about how to start a daily meditation practice as a way to refill your yoga bucket, but in the meantime, what is your favorite way to refill your bucket and stay sane?


© Rebecca Stahl 2012, all rights reserved.


  1. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, centers attention and sharpens concentration. Your blog is awesome. I liked it a lot. Thanks and cheers. :)

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