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I took a restorative yoga class yesterday at Perfect Hearts Yoga in my home community of Steveston, BC. It was not like the yoga I’m used to. There were no downward dogs; no cat cows; no tree poses. The entire class was incredibly restful. Each pose was conducive to falling asleep and it incorporated props, blankets and eye pillows to help cocoon you from the outside world. At first I said no to the blanket and the eye pillow as I felt I could do the class without them, but the teacher explained to me the benefits of being comfortable and keeping the bright world from distracting me. She said that by wrapping myself up and blocking out the sensations of the “real world,” I would learn how to let go of what I should be doing and I could learn to just be. I accepted the extra props and somehow, for the first time, I was truly able to let go of the stresses of life and allow myself to stop worrying about what I should be doing. Instead I focused on just being in the moment, the way I was; the way I am.
A few minutes into the class, I actually felt my mouth beginning to turn upward. A smile was literally forming on my face without me even trying. My subconscious was beginning to feel relaxed, and my happiness was shining through without my conscious mind trying to repress it. I know this sounds cheesy but, it really was a beautiful moment. I hadn’t felt this naturally happy in…I can’t even remember how long! I’ve still been struggling with insomnia despite discontinuing my Wellbutrin intake, and I had only slept 3 hours the night before my class, but I really did walk away from yoga feeling energized and restored.
I have done yoga off and on for a long time, but I never really felt the benefits before yesterday -at least, not mentally or emotionally. The stretching and holding of poses certainly made my body feel better, but I had never learned how to quiet my mind. As a sufferer of anxiety, quieting my mind has always been difficult for me, and it’s what has led to such conditions as insomnia, panic attacks, and leaning on alcohol to quiet the part of my brain responsible for anxious thoughts. As I said, I’ve done yoga many times and have tried all sorts of meditation techniques, but I was beginning to lose hope that any of them would ever work. I really thought that maybe I’m just one of those people who is immune to such things. Now I know there is hope. I’m going to keep up the yoga -specifically the restorative yoga classes- and I am making a renewed pledge to get back into a healthy lifestyle in April.
I’ve got a lot going on right now -finishing school for the semester, working part-time and taking on a new editing position at HUSH Magazine- and I’m starting to feel the stress load creeping up on me. On the one hand, I am much better off when I keep busy as I feel my life has purpose and I am contributing to the world. (This is especially good for warding off depression). But on the other hand, more responsibility means more potential anxiety, and more balance is needed to keep me going without having a breakdown. For now, I have decided to practice yoga as an escape from the stresses of the world, and I am making it my personal goal to focus more on my own holistic wellbeing from now on. No more pills; no more Freudian doctors; no more self-pitying. There are better ways to beat this contemporary mood killer, and I will exhaust myself in the pursuit of finding happiness in the natural world. For I know now that true happiness truly does come from within…it lives deep within our subconscious, and it will shine through if we learn to quiet our conscious minds, stop doing and just be. I’m smiling right now:)
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