It is the middle of the week and I feel absolutely frazzled. I try to think of the reasons for my agitation and few legitimate ones come to mind: PMS, lack of consistent exercise, recent crossing of 8 time zones, house upkeep, cooking meals for the family on most nights, joining a new medical group, driving my son to school and swim practices, fully booked work-days that frequently leave no breaks for food, water or going to the bathroom… You get the picture.
My survival instinct kicks in to fuel the desire of finding zen. One way to do it is by going to yoga class. Yes, not just practicing yoga at home by myself, but actually taking a class. There are several components of how formal yoga session can calm my mind.
1. Environment. Anybody will feel less tense in a 105 degrees hot yoga studio. On a subconscious level, I feel as if I have been suddenly transported into the climate of dry, tropical paradise, which automatically puts me in care-free mimosas-sipping mood.
2. You did not know you had it in you… Simple circular movements of the neck, shoulders, wrists, hips and ankles at the start of the class begin to infuse awareness into my body and pinpoint the locations that harbor tension. When I know where to find those tension clusters I can work on letting go of them.
3. Choreography. I follow the cues from the teacher, and I am forced to focus on producing those moves. I can think of nothing else. Whatever chatter that is left in my head dissipates. It is hard to think of how someone cut you off in traffic and be balanced on one leg at the same time.
4. Breath. I breathe deliberately and deeply throughout the practice. Such exaggerated breathing further relaxes me.
5. Heart. My heart rate goes up during the practice. I start having a glow on my face, which makes me look cute and distracts my mind even further from everything else.
6.Challenge. I feel exertion and the need to survive the physical challenge of the class. I focus on the task at hand as I sail away from the everyday life stresses.
7. Now. Form, breath and awareness is required to get through the class. Therefore, everything else vanishes and it is just me, my mat, my water bottle.
8. Little death. Finally, shavasana, or corpse pose, comes as a reward for my hard work. Nothing else can feel so simple yet so good as laying down on your back and being completely relaxed.
9. Quietude… of the mind, body and soul achieved by the end of the yoga class will persist for at least another 24 hours. My mind and nerves are calmer, I have regained perspective and feel like I can face whatever else there is because I can always have another yoga class to relax and calm. It is the place of sanity to which I can escape no matter how frazzled life gets at times.
Yoga gives me an outlet for balancing life demands. Of course, there are times when you may feel too tired to even think of anything but laying down on the couch, but as you know, you will feel better if you push yourself a bit more…to a yoga class. Once you are there you will immediately start to unwind, unfrazzle and feel calmer… Try it for yourself and see.