Featured Topic: Techniques to Relieve Stress

yoga_pose_reflectionYou already know how to relax don’t you? You at least know that you can get a massage, buy a relaxation meditation recording, or attend a relaxing yoga class. That’s not the issue, is it?

I have heard again and again from people who say they are stressed out, but they do not have the time to spend on themselves to actually relax on a regular basis. Why is this?

I believe it boils down to fear and habit.

“No,” you might say, “it’s my job! I have to drive a half hour to work at 6 a.m. and there’s mandatory overtime. We work six days a week and 12 hours of my day is spent either getting ready for work, driving, or working. By the time I get home, I am exhausted. There’s no time for good food or attending a regular yoga class. No way.”

Then why are you in a situation like this? Why don’t you create a healthier life style for yourself? You are not trapped — “hint: the cage is not locked” (quote from Meditations From the Mat; Day 64 is attributed to writer Nova Knutson).

“I have bills to pay; I need this job.”

Is this true? Ask yourself these questions: “Is it true that I have to live like this? What will be the quality of my life next year, five years from now? What will my health be like in ten years? Can I afford to continue?”

Some people who have asked themselves these questions realize that they may not live another ten years at their current pace of self-abuse. Stress-related physical and mental illness are rampant in our culture. How many people do you know who are on some kind of medication? How many people do you know who are NOT on some kind of medication?

In a yoga studio, I get to see another side of living. People who attend yoga classes regularly also have jobs. They work full time and they still attend yoga classes. How do they do it? This is where the internal conversation is different. I hear this: “It’s an investment in my health. I am more effective in my job if I take care of my well-being. I schedule my yoga class on my calendar at work and if someone wants a meeting during that time, I say, ‘I’m booked'”

Is this easy for them? Not always. Is it simple? Yes, very simple. At some point we all must choose to take back a bit of Self — to stop the cycle of abuse of our mind/body and stop giving our power and life away. Overwork is self-abuse. It keeps one away from relationships, relationship with family and yourself. Yoga helps us begin to reconnect with Self. To find out who I truly am and what truly makes me thrive, it takes time to reflect.

Relaxation takes time and a commitment to your self. It takes time to take care of your body and mind. When I do this, I am more fun to be with. I like myself and so do others around me. Relaxation can be as simple as sitting down, right now.

Try this: Close your eyes, check in with your body. How do you feel right now? How do your toes feel? Your legs? Hips? Belly? Relax them. Check in on the muscles in your chest and shoulders. Relax them. Lean your head back and take a deep breath, release all of the tension you found in your body. Smile.

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