Contraction and Expansion: The Yoga of Energy Sustainability

I have been considering energy a lot recently. The amount of energy I have to put into anything that I do; the self-care and down time that  it actually and realistically takes to sustain that energy; the energy exchanges we are constantly making with one another; and the energies that individuals add or subtract through their presence.


This is not a new contemplation but I am seeing more clearly some patterns and have had a few fun breakthroughs. There is a bit of learning curve but like the caterpillar who crawls into the cocoon has to let go of it all and become a puddle of gelatinous goo before she emerges as the butterfly, I am willing to move through the uncomfortable part and learn more and more about letting go to enjoy the deep process of transformation.

First, I have rededicated myself to self-care. Maybe you can relate….. I tend to put myself last and I don’t always even see I am doing it until I am exhausted. I so love everything that I do that it can be hard to say no sometimes. It isn’t because I am a martyr – but I do put my own needs last too often. So this last year I have really been looking at what it means to actually have a sustainable life and making bigger steps toward having that. Sometimes this has meant letting go of things that I love but that I see don’t really serve me. Sometimes it means taking strides that feel big and scary but that I know will help. It feels like its working and I am beginning to see real results!

It may seem, on the surface, that for someone who is doing too much, working too hard and not always saying no when it might be in their best interest, a contraction would be necessary. What I am finding is that this obvious response is not the whole picture. I have done some contracting over the last year or so, recognizing that I simply cannot sustain if I over-do. But part of the answer for being more sustainable is actually to find the areas within which to expand as well. The answer is to find the balance.

I have made some big personal cut-backs (more on that in another blog) and in my work, I have cut back on some classes and am taking more time off. But I am teaching at a deeper level in general and even more expansively in special programs like my Sangha. I’ve also explored new levels of creativity in revamping our Immersion and Teacher Training programs for next year (I am really excited about the changes which I will be discussing at the Informational Session on Oct. 20 – please consider joining me!) and including doing more partnering – bringing in great energy and help! In addition, I am looking at offering more retreats in the next year as these are always so fulfilling and fun. All of these mean potentially fewer actual hours of teaching but expansion in what I am able to offer and the compensation, both in money and in joy that I receive from the hours. That is sustainable!

Another expansion that you will begin to see more at HeartSong is some changes and additions to what we offer. We are exploring ways for our current teachers to provide a more expansive learning environment. I am also looking at bringing in new teachers, alternative formats (like Nia) and even some other non-yoga, but very related, growth oriented workshops and series. These will create energy and provide space for a more full heart expression for both the studio and for everyone in our community. My wish is for this to help you to better sustain your life and well-being while also sustaining the life and well-being of HeartSong.

There are sure to be bumps in the road as we navigate. We may begin new things and then have to contract and start over sometimes but the overall intention of sustainability, health and well-being will always be our guiding light.

I would love to hear from you about what helps you sustain your energy. What depletes you? What fills you up? Can you relate to giving too much away – even if it all goes to things you love? How would it feel if you truly put yourself and your energy needs first, for real? We all know that we have to take care of ourselves in order to do what we do, but are you doing your very best at that? Take a moment in the comments below. Let’s keep learning, together!

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4 Responses to Contraction and Expansion: The Yoga of Energy Sustainability

  1. Pamela says:

    Thanks for sharing your process. I find as I get older I just don’t function at the same energy level I once did. It’s not that I don’t have the energy, it just feels like it needs to be expressed and directed differently.

    • Yes Pamela, I agree – our needs and interests change and the energy in / energy in equation just seems more vital! I have had a couple of conversations with women recently who “don’t want to say it because (they) are old” and so expressed some resistance to acknowledging just what you have said here…. I feel it is a sign of the wisdom that comes with age that we respond to our requirements, not so much a statement we can’t do as much because we are old. Important distinction!!

  2. Kristen says:

    I think about energy frequently and find it a fascinating phenomenon. Sometimes I do a global evaluation of my life and then I will hone in and make changes hourly or even in the moment as to what gives and sustains me. At the macro level it is a more cognitive process and in this micro moment by moment evaluation it seems to become more an intuitive listening process that is more fluid. Both I think are helpful and important. Thanks so much for writing and sharing. I always enjoying reading your blog.

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