Welcome to the weekend! I may, or may not have, seriosuly slept in this morning. *sigh*
I’ve been really excited about todays post for days now, and I hope you enjoy a little glimpse at one of my very favorite things!
I have serious Yoga love. For me, Yoga is so many things. Time to myself, time to connect with others, time to learn, quiet time, and an opportunity to strengthen my body and mind.
There are a thousand articles available on the practice of different kinds of Yoga, explaining the benefits of each, and the effect it can have on chronic pain, tightness, soreness, stress and even sleep. There is a ton of information available out there and I encourage you to learn as much as you can!
I would like to narrow it down however, to one really amazing concept I’ve recently learned, and how it has affected me.
One of the big lessons I’ve learned about Yoga recently is the effect it has on my mind, beyond the mat. Obviously, Yoga can strengthen your body and increase your flexibility, and those are certainly things that go beyond the hour you’re in class…but I’m talking about on a mental level.
My favorite Yoga teacher, who graciously allowed me use of her photos in this post, explains that the practice of Yoga puts your body into difficult, sometimes uncomfortable positions and then asks it to remain there while you take a couple of slow breaths. At first, this is incredibly hard. Your muscles shake, you sweat, you don’t know if you can hold on…
That initial, “I can’t hold on, I have to stop, NOW” feeling is your mind’s Fight or Flight reaction. It is a chemical reaction within your body that prepares you to either fight a danger or get away from it, fast. When we put our bodies into a difficult position, (half-moon anybody?!) the mind sees this as a potential danger and wants out, now. Thus, Fight or Flight.
As your Yoga practice progresses, the poses become less and less difficult, partially because your body becomes stronger. That is only part of it though. Through the practice of holding on to something that the mind views as a potentially hazardous, you not only train your body to be stronger, you train you mind to react differently to stress. You begin to trust that you can hold on, and that you can do it calmly, and with strength.
This has been an incredible realization for me…and I have only just begun learning. It is apparent though, that when I am put in a difficult situation outside of Yoga, I am more able to calmly respond to that situation, knowing that I can hold on, that I am held by my strength and by the strength of those in my life. I know that I will be ok.
It’s a beautiful thing.