I have a confession to make…
For the last 3 or 4 days I have had some major anxiety going on. Sometimes for just a few moments but a couple of really long periods during the day and night where anxiety manifested itself in dark thoughts about the current situation in the world and took my breath away. It feels awful.
I couldn’t focus on anything past my thoughts of what happens if my children end up sick, how will we deal with it so far from home. I found myself feeling disassociated from everyone around me, like I had lost my grounding.
That’s not my confession, my confession is that I forgot I had a way to deal with those feelings. I forgot that I can use my yoga practice to find that grounding I need. I forgot that I can wake up, practice then leave it all on the mat. Which lets be honest is a little bit embarrassing for a yoga teacher…
This morning at 7.15 I was on my mat. I worked, I stretched, I lost myself in my asanas. I lay on my mat and allowed myself to mediate in my savasana. I just let myself be.
I lost my anxiety and found calm in my mind, body, and soul. I lost myself in the magic of yoga.
Today it is grey outside but inside I have sunshine that I created on my mat so I’m good.
Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Om shanti shanti shanti
Om, May All become Happy,
May All be Free from Illness,
May All See what is Auspicious,
May no one Suffer,
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
I recently read a medical research study by Dr. Shanmugamurthy Lakshmanan a Research Scientist at Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts. Reading medical studies is not usually my jam but this one caught my attention. The title – Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behaviour and Anxiety – A Modern Scientific Perspective.
In a nutshell the research has shown that practicing regular yoga and meditation results in higher levels of the chemical serotonin which is a major player in mood balance. Basically it’s the bodies happy hormone. The same study showed that long-term yoga practitioners have more mass in the areas of the brain associated with contentment. That’s a pretty cool reason to get on your mat.
There have been studies that show that the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels are higher after practicing yoga. Higher GABA levels are associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety.
I have Bipolar disorder. Yoga is not going to “cure” me or “fix” me but on a day to day basis I definitely see a difference in the days I practice to the days I don’t. When I’m in a low it can be especially hard to roll out my mat but if I can make myself do it I can feel the benefit afterwards. I am totally able to see that just 15 minutes of yoga a day can improve your mood. That it changes your brain mass and chemistry doesn’t seem so much of a reach
I’m finding myself doing a lot of box/square breathing lately. It’s simple to learn, calms you down quickly and you can do it anywhere. I normally sit on the floor but that because I’m comfortable there. You could be sat at a desk, stood up, whatever works for you.
Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Focus on the air entering your lungs.
Hold your breath while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.
Breathe for 4 – Hold – count for 4 – exhale for 4 – Hold – Inhale for 4