Life’s been a little hectic–a good hectic, but that doesn’t stop the way my brain goes all frenetic and my body at times will complain, particularly my back. I was a personal trainer for 5-6 years, before I moved here to Western North Carolina, and exercise to keep strength and flexibility are important to me still. I’ve taken up running lately and since April have worked up from about five minutes of “ughnnn uhhhngnnnhhgghh” running (laughing) to a little over five miles as my best, so far. It helps me to zone out, to keep myself from becoming too crazy. I do some strength training, too, mostly on my upper body, to keep myself strong. There are walks at Lake Junaluska, or around my mountain cove. But . . . it’s the yoga at the end of it all that rounds everything out.
Once I step onto my yoga matt, I leave everything else behind but the moment. There are no racing thoughts, no worries about what I have to do next, for I must concentrate on breath, on maintaining internal silence, Antar mouna. I am careful not to overextend, such as in forward and backwards bends, or to take my body too far into the pose in those areas where I am not as flexible; I must respect my body’s abilities and its limitations. My eyes look inward as I concentrate on a spot or object, Bahiranga tratakanot. I stand in Mountain Pose, Tadasana,—feet together, hands at my sides. I bring my hands to prayer position, then raise my arms up to the sky, feeling a gentle stretch, my balance, my focus, and from there, I fold and move into the sun salutation, Surya-namaskar.
No matter which yoga poses I do, I always include child’s pose at the end. It is hard to feel anything but peace and serenity when folded into a facing-down fetal position. My face is hidden from the world, my body tucked tight, yet my spine is vulnerable to the sky and anyone who may come near me. It is at once both a trusting pose, while a very private and protective one. I breathe in and out, slowly and evenly. I stay that way until I can face the world again. Then I curl up and sit into half-lotus pose, ardha padma-asana, bring my hands to prayer position, then lower my head, close my eyes, and whisper, Namaste, which is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another, or when alone, my own acknowledgement of my heart. How can I feel anything but contentment and peace when in this beautiful pose? I cannot. Namaste.
What about you? How do you control stress in your life?