I attend yoga classes about twice a week. The Saturday 8:15 am class has a rotating instructor so I never know who will be there that day and what type of class will be lead. Initially I didn’t like not knowing what to expect and now I go in with the sense that whatever it is I truly need that day, the instructor there is going to extend an invitation for something I can learn or experience.
This particular class resonated. Our instructor, Santiago, talked about why we come to yoga. It’s not a check off your to-do list type of activity, it’s where you learn to go inward. To breathe. To learn. To grow. To be present. To feel your body. To stay with the poses. To stay with the movement between the poses. To not react so quickly to uncomfortableness and pain.
He spoke about how sometimes our day might be going quite well, then something unexpected suddenly happens, like getting stuck in traffic, or your spouse knocking over a lampshade and it breaks into 20,000 pieces on the floor. We so often react quickly with irritation, with anger, with frustration.
In yoga, when a pose suddenly becomes uncomfortable or too much, you notice. What hurts and where? Is this pose too hard, are we in it too long? Do I need to shift just a little? It’s about taking the time to respond rather than react with negativity. Our minds are wired to act quickly. And we do.
In life, like on the mat, in most cases, we don’t need the knee-jerk, angry reaction. Rarely does it do anyone any good or help.
This is how what is learned in yoga can be used in other areas of life. We practice in a space where there is calm, then transfer that practice to a space that can be chaotic. Then practice it there.
I like to take four seconds before responding. Why four? It correlates with nature so well. Four seasons, four directions on the compass. It just feels natural. While on the mat, if a pose is uncomfortable I silently count to four and notice what needs to shift. Is it my body because a stretch is just too much for muscles, or is it my mind, the thought that I can’t hold this pose another second? That gives me four seconds to respond instead of react. To decide, what is the best, most helpful course of action here. Easing off a bit, or telling my mind it’s okay.
Life outside of yoga doesn’t have to be different. You can still take those four seconds to assess whatever situation is happening and decide how you want to show up. Maybe you still want to get angry, or yell. Maybe you don’t. Maybe the person who cut you off in traffic honestly didn’t see you, or really is running late and trying to get somewhere important on time.
Those four seconds could be the difference between stress and peace in your life.
Take four seconds before responding. Try it out.
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Helping You Live A Slower, Simpler Life
Image by Pixabay, with permission.