This week I discovered something scary: Sometimes you don't even realize that your body is racked with stress. Here's what I mean... This week we've had some really cold weather. So, this being Texas, where the mere threat of cold weather can potentially shut down entire towns, we go to bed in the evening not knowing whether the schools might cancel or delay classes in the morning. As it turned out, one day this week one of my kids' schools was delayed and the other started on time. (Unexpected change to my work schedule - no biggie.)
That same morning my husband and I got in a fight over something dumb. (Silly fight - it happens, right?)
Then in the afternoon I picked up the kids in our carpool and texted my husband about whether he could pick the kids up from me so that I could squeeze in a yoga class. (Anticipation, tired kids, traffic - pretty routine stuff.)
As it turned out, my husband was able to pick up the kids from me and I was able to make it to the yoga class. And that's when I had this scary realization.
I rolled out the mat and laid on my back and was really surprised by how much tension was in there. I lay there and just breathed for about 10 minutes before the class started. And it dawned on me that, even though it was a pretty routine day, a ton of tension had accumulated in my body.
And I find that to be pretty scary because we all know all about the damaging effects of stress on the body: premature aging, insomnia, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, the list goes on and on. And as I experienced on this particular day, sometimes we DON'T EVEN REALIZE how much of this damaging stress has latched itself onto our bodies.
The class was a challenging one for me - maybe because it was more intense than my usual Gentle practice, maybe because of the stress in my body, maybe because I'm not used to practicing in the evening. Regardless, I took breaks when I needed to and I modified when I needed to. And by the end I seriously felt like a brand new person.
I had new energy. My grouchy mood and the achiness in my back were long gone. In this moment I remembered what I loved most about yoga when I first started practicing and I remembered why I wanted to become a yoga teacher - because of the amazing transformation that's possible in an hour on the mat.
Sometimes we fall away from our yoga practice because life gets in the way. But really, if you think about it, that's when we need yoga most.
I urge you to observe your body and whether you might be unconsciously holding onto stress, and I invite you to come back to your practice.
Let go of the cycle of stress and adrenaline. Let go of fatigue.
Remember what it's like to feel ease in your body, mind, and breath. Remember that feeling of clarity that you get after a good yoga practice? Let that feeling lead you back to your mat.