Life Lessons from the Yoga Mat – Q4 2023 Facts & Findings
For many paralegals, tending to their physical, emotional, and mental health can feel like three more chores in their overscheduled life. Although taking time can be difficult, self-care is essential. One way paralegals can practice self-care is by finding one activity that checks off multiple boxes on their todo list. Many physical exercise routines also provide emotional and mental health benefits. For example, a yoga practice can build physical strength and flexibility as well as develop healthy emotional and mental outlooks. The following are some of the life lessons that can be learned on the yoga mat.
- Remember to Breathe. This frequent saying of yoga instructors may seem obvious. After all, our bodies automatically breathe thousands of times a day. However, it is not unusual for yoga students to concentrate so intently on their movements that they unconsciously hold their breath. Doing this prevents them from achieving the full benefits of a pose and can prevent oxygen from circulating throughout their body. Conversely, a healthy flow of oxygen enables students to meet the physical challenge of a pose as well as any mental or emotional concerns they may be facing. Remembering to breathe while confronting work-related stress can have similar benefits, as any paralegal who has taken a deep breath before dealing with a difficult co-worker or client can attest.
- Find Your Effort and Ease. Yoga students are often directed to find their effort and ease. This means becoming aware of the parts of their body that must be subjected to stress in order to optimally maintain a challenging pose, while simultaneously determining which muscles are not necessary for this work. Continuing to task those unneeded body parts is a waste of energy, a stressor, and a source of strained muscles. Likewise, when paralegals confront a demanding caseload or stressful deadline, maintaining appropriate control over the essential while releasing the superfluous promotes the safe and efficient use of both the body and the mind.
- Go Down but Not To Stay. Many yoga classes consist of increasingly strenuous poses that students hold for a few moments each. Periodically, students are invited to take a brief break in a more comfortable position. The goals are to counteract strained muscles and to relax the entire body as quickly as possible. With practice, students can learn to make the most of these pauses without losing their momentum. This is a skill that can be transferred to a paralegal’s busy work life. By taking short breaks to fully disengage the body, mind, and emotions, paralegals can restore their equilibrium before jumping back into their work with renewed energy.
- It Is Your Practice. The word “yoga” can be used to describe numerous paths and countless disciplines. Yoga can be calming or strenuous, quiet or social, traditional or quirky. Regardless of the style, students are encouraged to make the practice their own, to listen to the needs of their own body, and to recognize that they may need different levels of difficulty at different times in their lives. Similarly, the legal field presents paralegals with various areas of the law in which to concentrate, diverse settings in which to work, and varying degrees of complexity in which to operate. Like yoga students, paralegals benefit from listening to their own physical, mental, and emotional needs, adjusting their career focus over time, and making their practice their own.
Yoga is not the only physical activity that incorporates life lessons such as these. By finding the practice that works for them, paralegals can unite their physical, emotional, and mental well-being into one enjoyable and rewarding endeavor.
Eva M. Merrell, MBA, ACP, has been a real estate and finance paralegal for over 20 years. She works for Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen, PC. Eva served on NALA’s Continuing Education Council. She wrote the Real Estate chapter in NALA’s Certified Paralegal Exam Fundamentals textbook and numerous articles for Facts & Findings and paralegal blogs. Eva received her MBA from Western Governors University, her BS in public administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and her Paralegal Certificate from the American Institute for Paralegal Studies. Eva became a NALA Certified Paralegal in 1996. She holds the Real Estate, Contracts Administration/Contracts Management, and Land Use Advanced Certified Paralegal credentials.