This is definitely strange times. There is so much uncertainty and anxiety. Every day, there seems to be more information or different information and we aren’t even sure what to believe anymore or what is going to happen tomorrow.
All the thoughts, feelings, emotions and stress…. Oh My! We really are in the Haunted Forest on the way to Oz.
The thoughts are what we have the most control over. We can make a choice about what comes in and we can make a choice about how we think about something and then react differently.
This situation is revealing so much including, our vulnerability, our destructive abuse of this planet and its inhabitants, trust or lack of trust in authorities, racism, or a void in our relationships. It’s bringing up all that was just under the surface and now we have the opportunity to observe, feel and grow.
The aim of yoga in the first 4 sutras is to quiet the waves of the mind so that you experience what is truly real. The thoughts are not real. And even worse they distract you from what is real, an eternal source that is undisturbed, deeply good and tranquil.
Our practice is being tested in real time. Whether it’s asana or meditation or devotional practices or art….you are finding out if it has been healing or buffering. If your practice has taught you to quiet the mind, take a pause, be more aware, reflect, release the accumulation of stress you probably are able to handle this a bit better and maybe see the positive aspects it is bringing.
There is something wonderful about time at home, getting projects done, reading that book spending more time with family and practicing your yoga like never before.
I’m blown away that friends in LA and in India and in Australia are all feeling the exact same way. We are all so deeply connected. This virus has no boundaries of country, race, religion, gender identity; there are no divisions. We are in this together.
Globally, we are practicing public distancing heeding the cries of our Italian and South Korean neighbors. I do it more for my older neighbor than I do for my own health. I don’t want to bring harm to him.
Ahimsa means non-harming or non-violence. This is the first Yama (social codes of conduct) in the first limb of the 8 limbs of yoga. We may not really think of that one often because who actually wants to harm another being? But we do, unconsciously in our actions, in our choices, in our words and even in our thoughts. We ignore the effects of our choices because it means changing our behavior in ways we aren’t willing to do. So, for example we just pretend that no being suffered for the meal we are eating.
But look at how we are radically changing our behavior for our neighbors?
Today, I was reading Mr. Iyengar’s words, The goal is not trying to find some perfect stress -free world because this is a delusion. Life is stress. This fear is stress. You can purchase a product or join a program or move to a new place thinking that all stress will be eradicated or removed. But, it won’t last long. Even the DisneyLand- like existence of a pueblo magico in central Mexico has a dark forest.
A sadhana (practice)teaches how to live with and not allow stress to accumulate and burden the nervous system. Pantanjali actually says to us, the practice is to avoid the pains that are yet to come. He is saying that we may not know what is accumulating physically or emotionally until the pain arrives, so practice now.
And right now, the box has been opened and the pains are revealed. We can pay attention, go towards or we can cover up and just wait for it to be over and go back to the “way it was.”
So, watch what you are doing and ask yourself “is this helping me?” Or “is it causing me more anxiety?” Is it helping you move forward or back?
Just like asana releases the toxins of the accumulation of stress, we have to pay attention and listen for that inner whistle warning us to let out some steam. Notice, if you are getting short tempered, or are uncomfortable in your own skin, unable to sleep, feeling physical pains or migraines. You might try sitting quietly with those feelings.
This is what we do in our practice. We train the endurance and patience of our minds when we stay in a pose for a long time, reflecting and observing. And our practice brings up the pains for us to look at, manage, deal with and heal. So, practice.
It’s not just a physical thing. Running, jumping, swimming, dancing we should all be doing these things. But yoga, conscious movement or being in silence with yourself and connecting to what you really are feeling is of the upmost importance right now. Because, through that you connect, you touch the part of yourself that is unwavering, steady and compassionate.
With that said, we are so lucky to know the prescriptive remedies of asanas that help us stay positive, quiet the monkey mind and restore the nervous system. A good wholistic practice is going to be the panacea for these moments but below are a few poses that are essential to keep your head up and heart open.