Guest Author - Tracy Webb
Life can be challenging, and many can find it difficult to cope with the effects. We may find we are in the habit of reacting to everything, carrying thoughts of our problems around in our heads, and unable to deal with anything else that may come along to add to the situation.
I noticed in a friend recently, how they were so preoccupied with work stress and family stress that they were unable to support a family member who needed them to be there for them. Although at the time, nothing else was happening, except for in their mind, it blocked their ability to create space in their head to deal with another situation.
More often than not, we carry about with us all our problems, and miss the precious moment that is happening now. There may be nothing actually happening in that moment, but we can be so caught up in our thoughts that we miss the opportunity to enjoy the peace that is there in that moment. When we carry around stressful thoughts, our body experiences it as if the event is actually happening. We put our body into trauma, which will eventually have an effect on our health.
Yoga can help us to come back to our center. Through the many yoga practices available, we learn to breathe slowly, and take things in our stride. Since yoga asks us to focus our attention on the breath, it helps to keep our mind focused, relaxed, and calm. Through this we are more able to respond to situations than react to them.
Yoga works on the mind, body, and spirit. By practicing regularly you can become in control of your emotions, instead of being caught in patterns of behavior that may not serve anymore. It also assists in creating a more harmonious and peaceful life. There are several yoga practices that are beneficial for this.
Practicing meditation regularly helps us to detach from the endless thoughts in our head. Gradually we become able to be in the present moment, and function more productively. Even 10 minutes a day is beneficial.
A meditation that focuses on the breath works well, as you are able to gauge how you are feeling at any given moment. It is also beneficial to become aware of the breath during all activities. This helps us to be open and able for what is happening, and less likely to be lost in our thoughts and worries.
Yoga practice includes breathing exercises, all of which serve a different function. When you practice asana, you focus on the natural breath. When you practice breathing exercises you are altering the breath. Anulom Vilom is a fabulous breathing exercise to bring peace and clarity to the mind.
Exercise is a useful tool for self mastery. While exercising we tend to reach a limit of our ability. For example, when we hold a deep stretch we can feel the pull very intensely. When this happens we can start to breathe erratically, panic, and stop what we are doing. The mind goes out of control.
Since yoga relies on conscious awareness of the self and the breath, you become more able to notice the signs of panic and bring your attention to it. You are then able to breathe into the pain, and sometimes increase the stretch. By noticing in this way, you come back to yourself, relax back into the stretch, and calm the mind.
When we react in panic we perpetuate our reactionary habits. When we stop, and breathe into the pain, we respond and grow stronger in ourselves. By taking the simple steps above, our ability to cope becomes increased, and we feel the benefits of a clear and calm mind.