One of the workshops we had at the last Progress Over Perfection event was a self-health talk with Lucy Foster Perkins, a yogist with years of experience and a load of wisdom to share from her journey across 7 countries. Her travel has not only followed her yoga journey but her search for waves and like-minded surf communities. She teaches Vinyasa Flow and Yin Yoga, where she trives to remove her own ego out of her teaching and instead allow the practice to do the work.
In the workshop, Lucy brough up the importance of combating burn out in a tropical climate. In this post, we are sharing the essence of her session from the workshop, which she has personally written up for you, our dear readers.
As we thrive to better look after our planet, it’s vital that we acknowledge the importance of looking after Number 1 first – you! And one of the most important aspects of your overall health is your energy and vitality.
My biggest lessons I’ve learned in recent years after moving to the tropics (India, Sri Lanka and now Bali), has been to learn how to slow down and not to try to do everything, all the time, especially in this heat, especially when there’s so much to DO on this beautiful island.
When I moved to the tropics I felt I was living a constant summer. Finally, I wasn’t restricted by the cold dark days in my home country – the UK. However, my constant “doing” meant that my body was pumping out adrenaline for an unhealthy amount of time. In 2014 I experienced adrenal fatigue. Hitting the wall was my body’s way of telling me (forcing me) to stop. The pendulum has to swing the other way eventually and this was my body’s way of stopping my “Yang” cycle.
My recovery back to balance lead me to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Yin Yoga and a regular meditation practice. This was a new rhythm for me. A new pace. It wasn’t easy to adopt but here’s what I learnt from these agent wisdoms;
In the northern or south hemisphere, where we have a clearer Winter, nature is indicating to us that it’s time slow down. To go in and to reflect. Spring is the time for new ideas, no births, and summer is the time to go out. To realize your dreams. To explore, and to move! But this pace isn’t sustainable. At the end of summer, Autumn comes around and encourages us to let go of what we don’t need – like the leaves on the trees we shed what is no longer serving us. We’re preparing for our next winter, to go in again. To recoup and face what’s going on from the inside.
Here in the tropics nature’s messaging isn’t so clear. It’s easy to feel we can live an endless summer and constantly be on the go. The weather is great (except the odd shower in rainy season), it’s hot and there’s always something we can fill our days with. But here’s the thing: If you’re constantly on the go your body begins to get the message that you need to be on high alert. This message, as far as the body is concerned, is the same message as if you’re in constant danger. When “you’re in danger” the body will switch into the Sympathetic nervous system – the fight of flee nervous system. And if the body thinks it has to stay in high alert for a number of days, weeks or (dare I say it) years it priorities how it uses its energy and resources.
Just think, if your body thinks you might need to run for your life any moment it’s not going to prioritise detoxifying the body, or repairing cells, or digest your food properly. All your energy needs to stay at your extremities and you need to be super aware of what’s going on around you all the time. That means no looking in, no reflecting and no slowing down.
This constant “being on the move/being in high alert” is a vicious cycle, but soon we begin feel more and more tired. So why do we do it? If it’s affecting our overall health then why do we keep on going and going and going?
Other than the temptations to do all the wonderfully fun things you can do here in Bali, my underlying factor was that I believed that I had to Do More in order to Be More. Deep down I didn’t believe I was enough unless I filled my day with productivity. And without the cold dark winter of my home country (the UK) I was free to run at a rate of knot without taking responsibility of what I was doing to my body.
So how can we take inspiration from our environment here in Bali? For me, the rainy season is a sign to slow down. I don’t go out as much and I take the time to reflect and slow down. I don’t do too much during the heat of the day and I encourage myself to instead reflect, read or take a nap.
I still have the tendency to over-fill my days, but my learnings from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda have taught me to work with and learn from the environment and not to fight it. As a result, I have more energy than ever and if I feel myself tipping to the “Yang” end of the spectrum I have the tools to bring myself back to balance.
In the words of one of my heroes; Brene Brown “Be brave, and take a nap”.