I hope you are all hanging in there during this strange time in the universe. It has been such an ongoing process for everyone to learn to cope as our reality continues to change and shift each day. It just makes me think of yoga philosophy so much, particularly the kleshas. The kleshas are the eight types of suffering, and one is being resistant to change and attached to what is familiar and routine. The Yoga Sutras teach us that if we are attached to the things that are changing, we will suffer. This is an important thought to ponder. How can we practice non-attachment to change during a time like this? The answer truly lies within each one of you, but today, I want to shed some light on how yoga can help keep you calm & healthy during this turbulent time.
It is 2020 and the astrologists are saying that the last time the planets were in this alignment, other chaos was upon the earth. I read somewhere that the last time Pluto was in Capricorn, for example, there was the AIDS epidemic. I also read that the last time the planet Eris was where it is now (I believe in Capricorn, but I am no astrology expert!) we had the Trojan War. Whether you follow astrology, or not, it is super interesting to think about. About 100-years ago we had the Spanish Flu, and people walked the streets in masks much like we do now. My point is, history repeats itself, pain and suffering falls upon our nation in a similar fashion. It is how we individually cope with it that makes a difference. How are you reacting? Are you overwhelmed? Buried in fear? Or, just working from home and taking it day by day?
The truth is that everyone is affected. Even if you are still getting paid and have no direct fears, people around you are suffering and we are all one collective in the end. What you do during this time matters. The mindset that you have matters. The way you show up for others to connect and share also matters.
I am sure you have read tons of articles, blogs, and news reports telling you to “focus on the positive” and “love on your family.” This is all true, but I don’t want to be repetitive and demanding, I really just want to share how YOGA (my favorite thing ever) can help you through this time.
Yoga is thousands of years old and people have been using it as a spiritual practice and way of living for all of this time to prepare for moments like these. In yoga, the ultimate goal is to become aligned with your higher or divine self (or the divine itself). To completely calm the waves of the mind so that your true self can be present and aware. In yoga, the mind & body are one, but many of us become so disconnected with our monkey minds babbling on due to fear, anxiety, or pain. The monkey mind is the ego part of us, that voice in your head all day long that says things like, “I am not working hard enough,” “I should have called my sister back today,” “I am getting fat working from home.” Basically, the monkey mind tries to distract you from your higher self and the more time you spend on social media and Netflix, the more disconnected you become. This time at home is a great time to reconnect with the part of yourself that is unchanging, the higher you.
It’s time to connect! First, connect in with yourself and still the waves of the mind. The easiest way to do this? BREATHING! Pranayama or breathwork is one of the eight limbs of yoga. Breathing is vital to life itself and the breath is our life force. By taking just 5 deep, belly breaths, you can activate your parasympathetic, “rest & digest,” nervous system. This is wonderful news, since as a society, we mostly live in a sympathetic dominant culture, “rush to work, rush home, work more, sleep less, workout more, eat less…,” you get the picture. When you relax your nervous system and switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance, you also enable processes like digestion, deep sleep, and cell restoration. These processes are vital for the body to function well, not to mention immune system strengthening!
When you take a deep breath & begin to train the lungs to expand and contract for longer periods of time, you increase the amount of oxygen into the lowest parts of the lungs, strengthening the respiratory system and accessing red blood cells. This can be a great time to begin a daily pranayama practice if you don’t have one already. Try the following exercise every morning when you wake up:
Find a comfortable seat or lie down on the floor. Place one hand on the belly & one hand on the heart. Start to take really deep breaths, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling through the nose. Notice if the breath is coming from the belly or the chest, and then try to move it down to the diaphragm. This is called diaphragmatic breathing because you are breathing using your diaphragm, instead of taking shallow breaths into your chest.
- Count your inhale and then exhale 3-5 seconds longer than you inhaled for. For example, if you inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 8 or 10 seconds.
- Complete 10 rounds of prolonged exhale, maybe adding a visual or a mantra, like, ‘inhale peace, exhale stress.’
- Bring your breathing back to its natural, automatic rhythm, and just notice your mind & body. Has the tension decreased?
This exercise stimulates your vagus nerve, which helps relax your nervous system and your gut! I love this exercise and it is also great to do before bed. You can use it when you are stressed, or just add it in to your routine to change your stress response over time. Consistency is key!
This is also a good time to nourish the relationships that you do have and reach out to your friends and family on FaceTime, email, or by calling them on the phone. Reconnect with those people that you always felt like you never had time for in your pre-COVID schedule. Now is the time to re-establish those bonds and open up your heart. I have been doing virtual happy hours with friends that I just never seemed to line up schedules with. It has been so fun to reconnect and it brings me joy to interact with people I love!
Tonight is also a great time to sit down and make a list of things you want to let go of. Today, April 7th, is a pink super moon in Libra. This full moon is a good opportunity to cleanse yourself of anything that is no longer serving you. Maybe make a list of three things to let go of, and tonight before bed, try a little meditation with a centering intention or mantra. Here are some examples of ideas for mantras to use:
- I love, honor, and accept myself
- I release what is no longer serving me
- Let go and grow
- I am present
- I am love
- I am safe
- **Create your own**
Take time during this slow down to really observe how you show up in your life for you and in your relationships. How can you find more peace in your daily routine? What do you yearn for? As the time slows down, you can really find time to listen. You just have to get quiet enough to hear the answers.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. Please follow along with me on my business Facebook page, by clicking here.
I am offering virtual Yoga Therapy & personal training via Zoom at half price. If you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you a month of joy & connectedness. Until next time…
With love & light,
(pictured below, my two rescue babies and I. Hudson is adjusting after only being with us for 3 weeks!)