HOPE: HOW YOGA PREPARES US FOR CRISIS
APRIL 10TH, 2009: There has been a lot written about how yoga can help modulate the stress response. A great article in Harvard Mental Health April 2009 edition goes into wonderful detail about this. Key points made from this article include "yoga practices can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appers to modulate stress response. This in turn decreases physiological arousal - for example reduicng the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. For many dealing with stress yoga may be a very appealing way to better manage symptoms. Indeed, the scientifc study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent."
So what this says, which yogis have known, is that we practice yoga today to help us manage the crisis we might face tomorrow. It might seem weird to think of ourselves preparing for challenges but it makes sense that the best time to prepare for a crisis is BEFORE it happens. In class we try out various poses to create sometimes stressful situations (for instance a new pose, a pose with lots of sensation, transitions from pose to pose) and we observe how we respond. We practice responding to the crisis in other words. So then we can diagnose ourselves in our own crisis management. How would you do?
Do you lose hope when faced with something new? Do you respond to trying and failing with self criticism, do you give up? Do you get mad at the pose, at the teacher, at God? It is easy to give up hope. But the sobering reality is that if we give up, we are mentally and physically impacted.
Einstein says, "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." The worst thing we can do is lose hope, stop risking living our lives fully become fearful or worse yet apathetic. Apathy is the enemy of love. And yet in these sometimes trying times so many of us have lost hope. So consider this "To lvoe is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing."
I understand, I used to have the false belief that if I "did life right" everything would be smooth sailing and I'd be protected from anything bad or unpleasant. Then my Dad died suddenly trhough hospital negligence, then other family members became sick, my corporate job was in jeapordy. And I realized everything we are learning today is preparing us for tomorrow's crisis. Yoga won't stop stress. It will help us manage stuff that happens to us. There lies the difference. And it asks that we have the quiet courage to remain hopeful above all else.
An unknown author writes, "May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trails to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough HOPE to make you happy." So dudes, breathe HOPE because you know without a doubt that your YOGA practice will prepare you for any difficulty you face! With humble love and enormous gratitude, Silvia