TRAINEE’S LOG: September 27, 2015
On the agenda for Day 3 — Yoga to De-Stress and Flow to Live Music. At first glance, I was already wondering how the 2 of these topics would flow together since just the thought of the latter was stressing me out (more on that later).
First, we learned why the stress response is useful and awesome:
- Stored energy (fats, glucose, and protein) is rapidly released from the cells to get us ready for action (fight vs. flight)
- Breathing and heart rates skyrocket to flood our muscles with oxygen
- Not immediately essential functions are stopped (digestion, growth, immune function, etc.) to conserve energy where possible
- Pain receptors are inhibited and our senses go into overdrive
Second, we learned why the stress response is not so useful and awesome:
- When all of the above happens all the time, we become chronically fatigued
- Long term stalling of certain functions means our bodies are sorta half-assing it most of the time
Then, we learned (A) how to start making ourselves aware of our own stress response and (B) some simple techniques to “turn it off”, returning our bodies and minds to a state of balance and restoration.
REALLY cool and somewhat revolutionary stuff! Exactly what I needed before heading into part 2 of the day (aka the part that was stressing me out).
Now, you may ask why practicing yoga to live drums would be so stressful for me. Well, I’ll tell you why…
To my control freak, Type-A brain, yoga to live music is disorderly and chaotic and (no surprise here) I like my yoga calm and orderly.
You wanna know what I learned about 3 minutes into the practice? I was correct – it was very disorderly and chaotic. Our lovely teacher, Sarah‘s hair was messed up, we were walking on our classmates’ mats, some of us (ME) looked ridiculous, and there was sweat everywhere.
But you wanna know what else I learned? Well, that’s a bit more complicated – so much so that, admittedly, I didn’t exactly know what I’d learned until several weeks later (hence the tardiness of this post) while in a Hatha & Yoga Sutra Study class with Susan earlier this week.
Over the years of practicing yoga, I’ve noticed that I tend toward certain styles of yoga and certain teachers – the ones that allow for a precise execution of each pose or flow (translation: I don’t like “messy” yoga). While I find that – with practice – my ability to recognize stress and “turn it off” has greatly improved, I’ve plateaued – probably due to my strong tendency to retreat into my comfort zone when on my mat. It occurred to me that I’m essentially practicing calm when I’m calm…turns out, that’s not super helpful in day-to-day life.
I mean, let’s face it, we live in a world surrounded by stressors. And I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t live in my comfort zone 100% of the time. So when we expose ourselves to the world that lies outside of our comfort zone on our mats, we’re practicing calm when chaos has ensued…and this is a bit more like reality, right?
In class, we typically first practice noticing reactions and recognizing tension – am I clenching my jaw, holding my breath, temperature rising, thoughts going a mile a minute, or getting fidgety? Then, we learn to breathe through it and find peace within ourselves despite the external circumstances or discomfort and annoyance we feel at the time.
From there, the idea is that we take this practice off the mat and into our lives which ultimately makes us way better at life and allows us to find a daily sense of inner peace like a boss.
Was the class fun and liberating? Yes! Would I make another class from Sarah? Absolutely (and I already have on multiple occasions), she fabulous! And I’ve got to say that the Savasana at the end of this particular class was the most enjoyable final resting pose I’ve ever experienced and I also felt AMAZEBALLS after class. Why? See, that’s what I didn’t fully understand until my recent class with Susan.
I felt so awesome because I overcame. I faced a major stressor for me (the perception of chaos and disorder) and breathed through it. I witnessed every physical reaction in my body and mind – rigidity, heat, and panic – and instead of pushing it down, I just experienced it and kept breathing. I conquered something really big during that class. It was a test and I passed with flying colors.
But that wasn’t all – my confidence had grown exponentially. I faced a major source of stress, I didn’t run from it or ignore it, I just let it come…and I let it go. I walked out of that room knowing that I can definitely take the next thing that comes along.
But most importantly, I learned that true joy and inner peace has nothing to do with what is happening to you or around you – if it did, it would be very short-lived and totally dependent on circumstances beyond our control. In other words, if we wait for conditions to be and remain perfect, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives. Think about it, how often have you heard someone say “I’ll be happy when…”? I think we all know that even if that “when” does finally occur, there’ll always be another “when” just beyond the first and just out of our reach.
Practicing finding peace in the middle of the storm leads to lasting joy and peace.
So I get it know – our collective inability to manage our own internal stress responses is slowly (or not so slowly) killing us and we’ve got 2 awesome strategies if we chose to change this reality: (1) active breathing, yoga and mediation techniques and (2) practice facing it and training ourselves to be calm through it.
The good news: we aren’t victims of circumstance – we can find peace and happiness anytime we choose as long as we utilize the tools we’re given and practice.
Interested in experiencing Yoga to De-Stress (HIGHLY recommended)? Thrive Yoga is hosting a 2-hour workshop that’s open to the public on March 20, 2016 starting at 1PM. Read more about it and get yourself registered here.
As for the Flow to Live Music – which I also HIGHLY recommend – I’m sure that Sarah will do another one so be sure to join Thrive Yoga’s Facebook community for updates and follow Sarah’s page for updates.
Thanks for an awesome class Sarah and thanks Richard of The Handsmiths for the fabulous live drumming! I’m definitely in for the next class!