The Continuous Stress Cycle
At times, even yoga teachers, or especially yoga teachers (!) can find it hard to stop running around or take enough time to pause and reset. And I have felt this a lot over the last couple of months.
As much as I manage to get into a routine and dedicate time to my own yoga practice, meditation or general downtime, sometimes I’m unable to stick to my routine, and I snowball into a frenzy with the to-do list and become a product of our modern way of life – like a Duracell bunny I just keep going.
Much of what we do at this modern pace has our body and mind on constant alert, or what is called “fight or flight” mode. Stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol flood the body to help deal with the heightened situations. Rather than being given the opportunity to return to normal into the “rest and digest” mode, the opposite to “fight or flight”, we power through, onto the next thing, creating perpetual stress in the body with tense muscles, tight joints, an uncooperative digestive system, insomnia, anxiety, volatile emotions and an incessant buzzing mind. We don’t allow ourselves the time to pause, reset, or indulge in calmer, more yin activities. And so we force ourselves away from our natural rhythm, the rhythm of our life force, the rhythm that moves through every living being, into this synthetic stressful pace governed by the ticking clock.
Balance is needed in everything in life. You need only look to nature and the rhythm of this planet to see where balance exists: night and day – winter and summer – ferocity and gentleness – turbulence and peace . This translates into a concept expressed in Patanjali’s Sutra as sthira-sukha asanam (Sutra 2.46). It communicates the need for both steadiness and ease, and ultimately balance.
You can move through life with as much dynamism, energy, assertiveness and determination as you wish. But you can do so by embracing ease, softness and levity at the same time. You can deal with everything you need to on your to-do list but you can also factor in a few minutes each day to stop and reset. Move through your life with balance. In this balance you will find both your strength and softness, your wisdom and peace.
So in the midst of the chaos, the rushing, the incessant “doing”, even if you don’t do yoga, meditate, or indulge in a calm walk or other yin activity, take a few minutes to stop and observe the sounds around you, smell the air, feel the ground beneath your feet. Take a moment to lift your eyes to the sky and observe colours and shapes, clouds, the sun, rain, stars, the moon. Pause. Be. Breathe. Connect. Take some time to slow down, before you start doing again, and give your body and mind their moment of “rest and digest”. By doing so, you give any accumulated stress the chance to settle down again.
Your body and mind will thank you for it.
For an opportunity to unwind, reset and learn about the effects of stress on the body and mind, and how to minimise and release it, join me on my next retreat…