These days are quite intense. There is a very real heavy load hanging above all our heads, waiting for our recklessness to unleash its sad truth. Though, what we tend to forget in the midst of the general panic, is that there ARE in fact, things we can do to better take care of ourselves, our loved ones, our communities and our dear home we call planet Earth.
Yes, we can (and must!) wash our hands, avoid touching our faces and frequently touched surfaces, practice social distancing and self isolation, we can stay informed through reliable sources and keep up to date with the news. Those are common sense practices that everyone should be diligent about, if not for themselves, for the wellbeing of others at higher risks. But, although essential, I find these actions to be conducive of a great deal of stress and anxiety. If you are among the nervous ones (hi, I’m here!), maybe consider turning to an add-on strategy to soap and media streams…
What about Yoga?
The Yoga teachings have invaluable lessons to inspire us with and tools we can use anytime, anywhere (yes, even in self isolation mode!) which can be of immense help when feeling the darkness creeping into our minds, our hearts, our souls… Yoga can help dissipate the clouds, make us see clearer, breathe deeper and connect to a brighter frequency, one that vibrates radiantly. These tools are my personal favorites and I thought they could help you too. They are not the answer to it all, but they could provide relief, calm and peace amid the gusty winds of change.
Asana is the outward, more physical sphere of Yoga philosophy. The one we probably all know about, that involves downward facing dogs and other mindful movements. Sure, the physical aspect of asana is a great way to stimulate the whole being including all our internal and external systems, in order to remain strong and healthy and crank up our immune systems. But more so, asanas invite us to connect deeply to our body and feel it. All of it. Becoming so acutely aware of our bodies does not only imply imperative mindfulness, but also, the nurturing feeling that arises from the simple act of taking care of our unique house of flesh. Whilst experiencing your body in different poses, explore the sensations, notice the blockages or the discomforts, observe your reactions and the emotions unfolding. Through asanas, allow respect and patience for your bodies to surface and love for yourself to float in.
Meditation is a practice that has attracted more and more attention in the past decades. Scientists have studied the numerous and mesmerizing effects of such powerful practice on the whole human being, brain and heart included. It is no secret now that meditation has profound soothing effects that help relieve stress and anxiety and calm our overactive minds. Meditation is a tool to help our nervous systems to drift from a fight-or-flight reactive state to a rest-and-digest recovering one, which we desperately need, now more than ever. In times of global changes, it is crucial to find that space within, a refuge away from the fears, the ifs and the buts. We need to connect within, so we can face without! We can use meditation to hold on to the positive and melt away the negative, to feel gratitude and dismiss the apprehension, to embody the here and now and let go of the uncertain future.
Pranayama is a Sanskrit word, the traditional language of Yoga, which refers to breathing techniques. Prana is the flow of subtle energy that lightens us all up and allows us to be, to live, to thrive. It is the life force energy. If Prana flows smoothly, all is well and we feel fine. If Prana hits blockages whether mental, emotional or physical, it cannot flow freely and we experience pain or inconvenience. Numerous breathing practices have been developed within the Yoga lifestyle and are said to enable Prana to flow and support human beings in, well, living life as human beings. Some breathing techniques have the very powerful abilities to strengthen the immune system, lower the stress levels, increase resilience, calm the nervous system, elevate our energy, our mood, etc. In other words, Pranayama is a super potent tool to navigate uncertain and scary times such as those we are in today.
Yoga is much more than a way to become flexible. It is much more than fitness (in fact, it is not fitness at all!). Yoga is a way of living that includes many highly valuable principles, teachings and lessons. One of them being the practice of Ahimsa, or non-harming. Ahimsa applies to all beings. It implies cultivating values such as empathy and compassion, and to refrain from harming others with our words, our behaviors and our bodies. In a worldwide pandemic situation, Ahimsa is essential to practice towards others, our loved ones, our elders, but also for the most important being in our lives… OURSELVES. We tend to forget to show that same love and compassion we show to others, to ourselves. We forget that we are deserving of our own love and affection and we should tend to our every needs and feels. If we are not taking good care of ourselves how could we expect to take good care of others? If we are not showing up for ourselves, how could we even show up for others?
To go through this storm of change, we need to be fully present, fully equipped, fully loaded with bright Prana energy flowing fluidly through our bodies. We need Yoga. And its invaluable teachings.
What is helping you in these intense times? What would you need?