OK…first off, I know what you are wondering, “what the heck is yin yoga”
Yin is a kind of yoga that targets connective tissues, such as the ligaments, bones, and even the joints of the body that normally are not exercised very much in a more active style of yoga or other physical activities.
Typically, a yin yoga class will last about an hour in which time only a handful of positions are taken (about 6-8). Each position is held for a while and boy, let me tell you, they are very intense positions. Not intense in that they are hard to hold, but intense in that they push you to your limit and are often a tad on the uncomfortable side.
While you hold these poses, the yoga teacher usually talks and lectures on a specific subject matter somehow connected to the practice.
Today’s subject matter had to do with my favorite of faves….STRESS.
Stress is unavoidable. In fact, we all need a little bit of stress in our lives. It kinda acts like a motivator…to get things done.
However, when stress becomes “distress”, that is when bad things start to happen. Our body and our mind begin to react in a negative way.
Yes, there are the more obvious ramifications of dealing with distress or anxiety…like heart attack, sleeplessness and other serious ailments and diseases.
But other interesting things start to happen. Digestion becomes problematic…even if you are filling your belly with only healthy and nutritious things. Your body reacts to stress by not properly distributing blood and oxygen to all the vital parts in our bodies. As a result, our stomach cannot work effectively at breaking down all that is inside it…to extract all the good vitamins and minerals found in healthy food.
We become more agitated when we are anxious or distressed. As a result, we lash out at those easiest to attack…our loved ones. How many times have you come home from a shitty day at work and you snap at your partner or children for the smallest of reasons? Guilty as charged!
Our sleep becomes compromised. Our ability to allow our bodies to fall into a sleep state goes down the toilet and as a result we suffer from anxiety and fatigue which wreaks havoc with our body to stay healthy and strong.
Anxiety and distress find their way into other parts of our body. For example, distress often finds its way into our hip flexors and our shoulders and necks. Distress messes with our body’s sugar levels contributing to the proliferation of Type 2 Diabetes.
So, here I was, doing a yin yoga class that focused on “hip openers”, cursing to myself about how intense the discomfort was as I was trying to open my hips..only to find out that I am probably more distressed than normal and this distress was finding its way into my hips…amongst other body parts.
So…why all the distress?
I think that we bring on unnecessary stress all by ourselves. We create our own stress.
Wanna know how?
Well…for starters we obsess about the past (many who suffer from depression dwell on the past) and we also obsess about the future. Neither of these two places in time we have any control over. We fabricate “what if” scenarios in our minds…playing out scenarious about what might happen in the future even though we don’t really know for sure what is going to happen a second from now…or a minute.
So we freak ourselves out over events that already happened and spend too much time looking in our crystal balls for the answers to the future.
We also place an inordinate amount of pressure on ourselves to surround our self with a bunch of silly stuff we really don’t need. We work ourselves to the bone to try to get that second cottage property or those designer shoes that everyone just has to have or that new version of the IPhone because what we already have just doesn’t cut it.
In essence…we are killing ourselves. Call it suicide…call it what you want. But, we as a society are so screwed up and without clear sense of the priorities in life that we are slowly but surely killing ourselves off.
Life has become way too complicated and we only have ourselves to blame.
Last I checked, life is a gift…it is a blessing. Life is filled with so many wonderful and natural things of beauty and all we are doing is whirling through it like someone lit a stick of dynamite and shoved it where the “sun don’t shine”.
For that 75 minute yoga class, I was on the mat…my mind focused on the sensations I was feeling in my body as the teacher put us through our paces. Nothing else seemed to matter. I breathed in and out deeply..something that we often forget to do when we are in crisis mode.
I took in what that teacher said and while I had heard the same story over and over again, for some reason, this time, something clicked.
I am 46 and have more good years behind me then in front of me. I need to slow it down a bit. That doesn’t mean that I work less because I cannot afford to. But what it does mean is that I need to focus on those parts of my life that bring me joy and happiness and bring and joy and happiness to those parts that I normally struggle through.
As an aspiring “enlightened male”, I will continue to work hard at re-prioritizing my life so that I live each day completely…living as presently as is the moment that I am in.