This week has encouraged a calmer state of mind. I don’t think I have mentioned, but I started doing yoga again. Yay for the return of physical activity to my life; although I must be careful and modify quite a few poses, no downward dog or forward folds for me. For me, yoga is something you do not notice the benefits until you stop.
I know that my hips are very tight and you don’t notice how much that affects your whole body until you stop stretching and tighten back up again. My very first yoga class back, I noticed immediately afterwards that I felt more comfortable. Tension comes on so gradually that you don’t notice how tight you’ve gotten. I start to feel achy and miserable, almost like I am getting flu aches and pains. After a class I feel like all the tension has been erased from my body.
I know I feel this way because of the combination of strength and flexibility required. Many people scoff at yoga and think it is a woman thing, or that it is just stretching. Yoga takes an absolute shocking amount of strength. Unless you are constantly in gentle yoga classes you are going to build some muscle. I’ve done the gentle yoga, it is a great place to start for beginners or people recovering from injuries. I went to a higher intensity class with a friend and was, surprisingly, okay with it. I didn’t manage to give myself a bad headache right out of the gate.
After my first class, I could feel it the next day. It was a good burn though, the kind that reminds you that you’re still alive. Even when the class is very intense, there is always savasina at the end to re-center everyone. I am not really one for meditation; my mind is way too busy. I am always thinking and planning, so when someone says to clear my mind I may look at them with sarcasm. I used to think to myself, “uh huh, I’ll clear your mind”. All while shaking my mental fist at them.
A friend of mine actually gave me a really interesting technique to get around this, in case anyone suffers from the same problem. She told me to picture an inane object in my mind, like an apple; think about how perfect it is, the colour, the stem, the green little leaf that is still attached. If you focus your thoughts on this one thing, rather than the hundred other situations in life that need you attention, it helps center me and still my thoughts. It has the strange side effect of forming a mental connection between calmness and apples. I suppose there could be worse things to form connections between, but I’ve created a headspace where apples mean calmness.
Overall, the yoga has been making a huge difference for me! It’s been a colossal help in keeping me sane. I hope that this post inspires everyone to run out and immediately try yoga, but I realize this is improbable. As a result I will simply wish everyone health, wealth and wisdom; and urge you to put pre-conceived notions on hold to give things a try.