Do you feel and experience what others are feeling? Do you feel like you can read the minds of those around you? Do you have a big heart and sometimes give too much? Does the person with the sob story always find you at a party?
If you said yes to any of these, you might be empathic.
Empaths tend to absorb other people's emotions and are highly attuned to other people's moods, good and bad. As a Pilates teacher for over a decade, I did not know I was an Empath until I started teaching yoga. Learning this about myself was life changing because, although I was a successful Pilates instructor I was chronically exhausted and didn’t understand why. Through Yoga, I have found specific self-care tools for empathic people like me. I want to share seven of those tools with you.
2) Meditate - Meditation is an opportunity to tune into yourself. The more we cultivate being in our own bodies, the easier it becomes not to take on other peoples ‘stuff’. Meditation can be as easy as noticing the breath. I suggest a daily practice of observing the breath for 5 minutes each morning. Set your alarm clock 5 minutes earlier and use those 5 minutes to practice meditation. A daily meditation practice is a powerful ritual that can set the trajectory of your day on a high note.
3) Release the Feet - Feet can hold tension, they are also are associated with the Root Chakra which is the foundation and helps us to ground. Releasing the feet not only puts one in the body but also allows us to feel the support of the ground. Try Fire Toe Stretch: with the feet and knees together, tuck the toes under and sit back with your hips to your heels. Hands can be on the ground or rest on the thighs. Take 5 deep breaths. Release.
4) Connect to Earth and Sky - This is often my theme for many public classes. If you simply stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) feet parallel hip bone distance apart with unlocked knees and arms relaxed at your side. Can you feel the ground lift up to support your feet on the Earth? Can you sense the gentle tug of the skull reaching up to the Sky? A mountain is held between the earth and sky. You can try this in tree pose (trees are also held between earth and sky).
5) Ground Yourself - How do you ground yourself? Put a sandbag across the hips in savasana (final resting pose), get out in nature, chat with a trusted friend or family member, take a whiff of Vetiver essential oil. The important thing to remember is to ground yourself before you encounter an ungrounded person or situation. Humans are herd animals; we are greatly influenced by each other. Can your regulated nervous influence others?
6) Take a Breath - Pranayama
Breathing is the simplest, most direct way to calm the nervous system. Breath practice is the 4th limb in the 8 components of yoga. Prana means breath and Yama means restraining. Try a four count inhalation and exhalation through the nose if you are feeling drained. Practice 4 breath cycles.
7) Practice Boundaries - Asteya is one of the ten Yamas and Niyamas or ethical guidelines in yoga. It is the practice non-stealing from others but also not allowing others to steal from you. This can mean tangible things but also the non-tangible like other people’s time. I am mindful when I feel like someone is draining me or talking my ear off, I use body language to communicate a boundary by turning my body away from them and then politely excuse myself. Notice after a hang out with someone, are you usually drained afterward or are you energized with that person? Discern how much you want their presence in your life. Energy vampires aren't bad people, in fact, all they know is after they talk to an empath they feel better. Remember, being an Empath is like having an unprotected Wi-Fi network. Keep your password protected.
If you enjoyed this Article please check out my upcoming Workshop: Yoga Skills for Empaths, Saturday March 16th, 2019 2-4 pm at Sanctuary Yoga in Austin, TX The Workshop is movement based and interactive!