How good is your relationship with your yoga mat?

Sounds like a bad fitness magazine article, I know.  But the truth is, the relationship you have with your yoga mat greatly affects the overall quality of your practice.  When you’re starting out naturally it will feel foreign to you.  As a novice, you will most likely feel insecure in your movements and not as flexible as the more familiarized students.  The truth is, a lot of people are just now learning the all around life-changing benefits of yoga.  You shouldn’t feel ashamed to be new at this!  Have the confidence to jump in and be excited that you are learning about a whole new way of life!  Something that will give you the power to overcome any obstacle life wants to throw at you!  Trust me, I know.

Today has been especially rough for me, I won’t go into detail but it should have been the worst day I’ve had in a while.  Notably though, my overall stress levels stayed at a record low.  I was able to work my whole shift, not once did I feel a panic attack coming on (a few crying spells did occur, but I managed to get a hold of myself through deep breathing and affirmations ;)).  I kept utilizing the tools I have acquired over the years – stretching, breathing techniques (pranayama), and venting to friends all help out tons (given your friends are as wonderful as mine to listen to your rambling and treat you to a delicious Mexican dinner :))!

After I came home from dinner I immediately came into my room, put on some soothing music (Ambient radio on Pandora.com), and laid out my mat.  After dimming the lights and briefly stretching my legs and arms, I got into Corpse Pose.

I’m not sure how long I laid there on my mat, but I do know that I felt every emotion known to man whilst doing so.  At first I felt anxious and weak – I couldn’t take a full breath and it was hard for me to lay still.  Then I began focusing on my breath more and my thoughts less, with this I began to feel a little stronger.  I incorporated affirmations, envisioned myself as strong and able to overcome anything.  As the thoughts began to pour out of me – rolling through my mind but not affecting it – I thought about the things I would be losing out of the situation.  Tears began to pour out of my eyes uncontrollably.  But they weren’t the familiar tears of sadness I so often cried in my adolescence and years struggling with anxiety.  It was like they were cleansing my soul.  Once they were gone I felt a warmth surrounding me and a sense of complete calm overwhelmed me.  I stared at the air vent on my ceiling and felt no thoughts at all, just the comforting blanket of peace.

Every time I have similar revelations of serenity on my mat, I can’t help but feel completely blessed to have found this practice that makes me feel so entirely whole.  When I have no where else to run and no one to talk to, my mat is always there – patient and humble – waiting for me (however long it takes!) to find what I am searching for deep within myself.

If you are new to meditation and would like to learn more, both Yoga Journal and Holistic Online have great articles and information on the subject.  Good luck with your practice!

Here’s the Green Smoothie I made today:

fresh banana, mango, spinach, almond milk, agave, and ice.

 

Namaste’

❤ Sam

 

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Yoga is better than Xanax.

Confucius once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  That step for me was into a Warrior II pose over 6 years ago.  With that first step I felt a power ignited deep within my soul – even if it only lasted the few seconds I could muster to stay balanced.  I felt strong and focused.  For the first time – probably ever – I felt in complete control of my body and mind, and could feel them working in unison.  That feeling has only grown into a much more intense feeling I will call “yoga high.”  Yoga high is a high much better than any recreational drug, alcohol, or shopping binge could ever produce.  It has the power to take me from an almost certain pulmonary embolism to a zen dream-like trance.  Which brings up my lesson for the day.

Stress, Anxiety, and (the anxiously dreaded) Panic Attack.

I have dealt with being an over-stressed soul my entire life.  I am extremely type-A, very high-strung.  In high school my mom suggested I begin a yoga practice to help relieve my stress.  I began researching and practicing on and off, I just could never make the routine stick.  I was fully aware of the physical benefits (hello tight lil tush!), but I didn’t have much to say for the “mind and spirit” aspects.  Needless to say, yoga often got tossed aside for other things, like wasting copious amounts of life in front of the television whilst snacking on processed crap, no doubt.  No wonder everything in my life seemed toxic – I was basically poisoning my well-being living that way!  I acquired massive impulse-control issues (that’s a whole ‘nother story we won’t get into anytime soon ;)) during this time that I still struggle with today.  Yoga adds that sense of calm that I can’t find anywhere else.

Today is a shining example of how powerful yoga can be.  I have been in high-stress mode since around Valentine’s day.  The knots in my back feel like they are enveloping my shoulder blades, my chest is tight and it’s hard to breathe.  I know these are just symptoms of anxiety, it’s been happening for years.  For lunch I decided to be lazy and order out (Mediterranean pizza on wheat crust with a Greek salad from Austin’s Pizza, mmm).  Little known to me, they are doing massive construction on both major highways near my apartment.  Oh yeah, and they are doing construction on the other street that would be a shortcut to my destination, perfect!  So what should have taken 15 minutes round-trip ate up the whole first hour of my lunch break – the time that I normally do yoga.  When I got back I had already eaten half of the personal pizza (it was yummy and there was nothing better to do!) and I don’t like to stretch with food in my belly.

So there I was, halfway into work.. full of pizza and not inner peace.  Work is stressful, I’m not going to lie.  But until I can afford to get my yoga certificate and teach, it pays my bills.  I do tech support for DSL and you wouldn’t believe the way people treat you over the phone when they are stressed (see how bad this stuff is?).  I try to counteract their negativity by being as positive as I can possibly be.  The best way I’ve found to help cultivate this positive energy is by doing serious yoga sessions on my lunch break.  (My typical routine takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, the longer the better!) I was already on the verge of a massive panic attack and was luckily allowed to leave work early.  Once I got home a conversation pushed me to the edge and I had to end my phone call to do some pranayama (or breathing exercises) while lying in the dark on my bed.  That calmed me down after a few minutes and I was able to breathe normally.  The numbing feeling in my face (I don’t know if this happens to anyone else during a panic attack?) dissipated.  Then something else sent me completely over the edge and a full-blown attack was engaged.

I laid out my yoga mat and got into child’s pose.  I focused on my breathing and the sensation of the stretch.  I followed with my regular routine and instantly felt better.  A sensation I haven’t felt since I quit taking the pharmaceutical nonsense they fed me in pill form  during my adolescence and up to last year.  If you’ve ever had to rely on Clonazepam or similar benzodiazepines then you know what I’m talking about.  You feel at peace, instantly okay.  Great news! YOGA CAN MAKE YOU FEEL THIS!   Yoga will center you and make you focus on what’s really important in this life – YOU!!!

As my journey continues, I hope you will share it with me and allow me to teach you all that yoga has to offer – for your mind, spirit, and a firm little tushie! 😉

Om-azing munchies from today:

Mediterranean Pizza

 

and

Greek Salad

 

Goodnight world! And remember to be nice next time your Internet messes up, tech support technicians do have souls!!! 😉

Namaste’

❤ Sam

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