So much stress, so little time can be the mantra for this time of year. Despite the its festive and fun aspects, for many of us the Holidays can be a poignant time of reflection on the gains and losses of the past year and over a lifetime. All this coupled with the increased day to day busyness of this time of year can bring a host of stress related issues to light. Increased inner tension and stress, tighter and achier bodies or even more overarching feelings of sadness or despair dampen so many people’s enjoyment of this season. It is common to see these noxious feelings or symptoms as things to be quashed or overridden somehow. Instead, Yoga practice invites us to understand them differently; as the only way the physical, emotional/mental and higher self can communicate its needs.
For those who seek the freedom and peace that Yoga and other self-care practices can offer all of this creates a time of great possibility.
Students new to Yoga are delighted to find it is common that there many simple easily integrated practices we can do when difficulties arise in our lives to soothe us in the moment. To be empowered in this way can be truly exciting and a great relief to those who feel under terrific amounts of stress.
Still, so many of our more serious problems are the result of the cumulative effects of physical or mental stresses, that can have a larger disruptive impact in our lives. Happily, many of these same techniques applied correctly and practiced consistently offer the promise of greater healing as they may undermine the deeper origins of our difficulties over time. As examples:
*** The physical Yoga poses(asana) can build strength and flexibility while at the same time helping body and mind achieve very powerful states of ongoing relaxation and peace.
***Skillful breathing practices(pranayama and krias) that restore, and balance our inner store of energy can calm the mind and release physical and mental blocks that may be at the root of a good number of difficult physical pain problems and anxiety issues.
***The most basic meditation practices that can give us momentary peace and centering to combat stress can evolve into the growing ability to access the deep peace awareness and more expansive perspectives surrounding our circumstances Over time this can help us let go of more entrenched difficulties, heal the cumulative effects of stress and disease more easily and live with more enthusiasm and joy during this and every season.
Sometimes all this great stuff is lost as the initial highs we may have experience is we start Yoga seem to diminish as their benefits are integrated into us over time. At other times some adjustment in our practice is called for to address some new aspect hat has called itself to our attention. With consistent practice these apparent obstacles become grist for the mill of our practice and can steer us toward new and even more exciting avenues of growth and healing
With regard to all of this students have given such varied feedback to me over the years on how their practice has evolved in how it has impacted their lives.
Some examples of this are:
Along with addressing the initial goals of getting more physical tone and flexibility, coming to the Yoga class itself attending of may come to offer some community, comfort and support. It may be the discovery of a “go to” meditation or breathing practice that consistently helps in overcoming rough spots in life. I believe the most exciting tangible impact consistent practice can provides is building a sense of confidence and empowerment over the external circumstances of life. For so many this shows up as a sense of resilience and strength that is comes from knowing that there is a vast store of powerful and creative ways to meet the wide variety of challenges that life sets in font of us. For you, of course, the journey is your to enjoy as it evolves.
I believe it is good to reflect on these things at these times, when the busy-ness of our lives challenges our ability to carve out the time for ourselves. Meeting the ebb and flow of our practice often depend upon fueling the awareness of how Yoga us achieve our goals even under the most most difficult circumstances.