Yogic philosophy claims that we have all we need inside. All the resources are there for us to lead a great life. We have capacity and potential. It is just our stressed and imbalanced minds that tell us we don't have enough and can’t do enough. What we need is balance. But how do we find it?
How we lay the bricks to a more sustainable life
Our imbalanced minds limits how we see life, and we never go up on our inner mountain to have a look out, to see our surroundings, to see our scenery, to learn about ourselves through reflection and looking at things from a distance. Stress is just a thought. If we tell ourselves we are stressed, we become stressed. Stress is not something that happens to us but something that happens within us.
That is why yoga emphasizes reflection and meditation, since that gives us the tools we need in order to elevate ourselves so we can see the bigger picture. And so we can, over time, start to figure out how we can yoke our potential with our capabilities. We can only do that by trying things out, doing it again differently, and then trying yet again. We need to understand our potential and train our capacity, since life will always involve challenges and will always be a dance of opposites, or highs and lows. If we are better equipped in dealing with the dance of life (in yoga this is called lila) we will have a richer, fuller, stress-limited life.
The more we start to look into each polarity of being and try to find a balancing point, the better-equipped we’ll be, since we can gather forces from two spheres of being: the right and the left, the upper and the lower, the inner and the outer, the being and the doing, life and death, etc. Then we become humans par excellence. Then we can balance life and reach happiness since we have all we need and we live in harmony with nature and evolve accordingly.
So, yogic philosophy teaches us that if we are too much over on one side, we need to add the opposite in small dosages, little by little, until both polarities in us are more in equal balance.
Rest as an antidote to stress and tension
We are taught to work hard to attain goals in life, and sometimes in pursuit of those goals we can fail to experience each passing day as full and complete. We only see the lack of the goal achieved. Life is living life, not putting living off for a while until you achieve a goal.
Many people think that relaxation is very simple. Just recline and close your eyes. Few people understand what relaxation really means. You are tired so you go to bed and sleep and think that is relaxation. Unless you are free from muscular, emotional, and mental tension, you are never relaxed. In order to relax completely, the inner tensions of the body, emotions, and mind must be released.
The antidote to stress is relaxation. To relax is to rest. Deeply. This rest is different from sleep. Deep states of sleep involve periods of dreaming that increase muscular tension. Deep relaxation is a state in which there is no movement, no effort, and the brain is quiet.
Find delight in the ordinary
Often you’ll find yourself using quiet moments as a springboard for the pursuit of some new, more exciting event. But if you can shed your intensity addiction long enough to experience the ordinary moments in your life, you will find that they are all doorways to the richness and vitality that live within your own heart. Instead of relying on a rush of external events to delight you, you will quickly find the delights of connecting to life just as it is, in this very moment. When you celebrate the ordinary moments in life, you begin to connect with all that has gone unnoticed in both your inner and outer life. Awareness begins to permeate not just the juicy moments but the plain ones, too. And you begin to question the human inclination to externalize both happiness and unhappiness. You start to examine the long-held belief that your sense of wakefulness depends upon intensity.
Restorative yoga provides the perfect antidote to stress because it creates a supported pause. By completely supporting the body and being still for extended periods the breath, the mind and the nervous system begin to calm. Different restorative poses can be used for different purposes though they all help to quiet the nervous system.
There are poses that open the breath and lift the spirits when we're feeling depressed, poses that are supportive and nurturing when we're feeling anxious, and poses that target specific parts of the body where tension accumulates. Another thing worth mentioning is that after one comes out of a period of exhaustion, the body carries more excess tension and excess toxins that need to come out. Therefor combining restorative yoga with some gentle weight training, maybe jogging and flowing yoga, is a great way of detoxifying and de-stressing.
Also, I cannot stress enough spending time in nature as much as one can. Being in its silence and natural sounds, walking, hiking or just sitting and watch its splendor. Letting natures arms catch and hold you and help you shred layers of stress and tension. Hit the brakes in your life, break out from the urban living for a while.
Do this and it will save your life, your holiday season with your loved one as well as building a stronger foundation for your upcoming 2019.
Parts of this text comes from my book RESTORATIVE YOGA (available here in swedish, for english go to Amazon.com) if you wish to explore this topic further.
This week's yoga & contemplation
Keep practicing your favourite sequences from this month. Which ones did you feel you needed the most? Do them!
Contemplation of the week
I invite you to ask yourself and inquire around the following questions during the week when you have a moment before, during or after your practice
- Can I add more play into my life?
- Go outside at least 45 minutes everyday this week.
- Have I told people I love that I love them?
- Do I need to apologize to someone?
- What are the best memories from this year?
- What would I like to cultivate 2019? In myself and in my life?
Yin, restorative & mediation videos for this week
Flow classes for the days in between
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