Can I be honest with you?
Sometimes I get burnt out, grumpy, and in a funk. Just like many of you, I fall into the trap of the glorifying of busyness. Subconsciously I believe that I’m not doing a good enough job if I’m not running from one thing to the next, crossing things off my list, working late into the night and then rising in the wee hours of the morning to work again. As much as it benefits others, my career of massage and yoga education is not immune to stressful deadlines and schedules.
Today a friend innocently asked me “so, how are you?” When I paused long enough to bypass the automatic answer of “fine,” I realized that I don’t know how I truly am doing. I haven’t made enough time to check in and listen lately.
I know from my own experience that exhaustion is the number one cause of getting sick. The body’s healing capabilities are miraculous, but we must live in a restful way for it to do the work needed to keep me healthy and bouncing back.
We all need the time and space to process and move through the curveballs of life. Otherwise our experiences get stuck. We get sick, or in a funk. In other words, we can get emotionally, mentally and physically constipated without taking this time to slow down and digest.
Appropriate stress hormones are important and valuable. But when we run a level of underlying and chronic stress, worry and anxiety, the body acts in the same way it would when faced with a real, big stress factor and therefore never lets go of those crazy stress hormones. This means that we stay in the sympathetic nervous system, avoiding the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes healing.
Luckily we yogis can consciously shift into parasympathetic with appropriate asanas, breath patterns and meditation.
When we forget to listen deeply to what our body needs – which is often rest – we keep pushing ourselves, even in our asana practice. Yoga is a technology allows us to revitalize with true healing. But sometimes we get lost in the gymnastics of yoga asana, when we really need to to take a break and slow down. Let’s instead turn to the nurturing and meditative practices of Yin and Restorative yoga.
Let’s slow down, allow some things on the list to remain undone, take a deep breath and notice. This pause, on and off the yoga mat, ultimately equals freedom.