Life is busy. There seems to be endless demands coming from all angles, work, social media, email, friends, family, partners, pets, it’s a barrage that seems to be compounded by that uncomfortable feeling that you should do more, be more, achieve more. While everyone keeps posting up their endless filtered lives of striving and perfection on Facebook and Instagram, it is so easy to slip into a mindset of panic. No wonder anxiety and depression are two of the most significant health issues across the Western world.
The pressure comes with age and gender too, first school achievement, then university, then work, then a house and a relationship, then children, good schools, sports, dance, well, you get the picture. These timelines of success seem to be inscribed on us from birth. Seldom are we told to take time out for self realisation, happiness, spiritual growth, to learn how to meditate, to actually meditate, to seek knowledge and purpose, to practice bhakti and generally, be loving beings in the moment. How would you even choose a filter for that photo? What to do? The answer of course – yoga!
And not the pressured, do a headstand split in your finest Lululemon unitard kind of yoga, but a trip through Patanjali’s 8 limbs to redefine your reaction to the I-Have-To-Do XYZ pressures of life. Asana’s are definitely part of this process, there is nothing like moving the body to get out of the head. This is why asanas come before meditation in the 8 limb check list, and have so widely been practiced by everyone from householders to rishis and babas prior the withdrawing the senses and going within.
Surya Namaskar A or B series is a great place to start, with the intention of clarity on what feels right for you – either in a right here right now micro way, or in a what am I doing with my life anyway macro way. Sun salutations are a moving meditation and give you a strong practice, start slow and build up body heat and movement, finish slow and give yourself a few rounds to get into the swing. Inversions are also excellent for literally turning yourself upside down. Fresh blood flow will invigorate your heart and shift stuck energy so you can have the clarity of heart and mind you need.
Try some twists and back bends to give you a different perspective from all angles of your decisions. What do you want? Why do you feel you have to do certain things, why can’t you simply observe the flow around you without having to jump onto the bandwagon or suffer endless FOMO or guilt? As you twist and bend, look at all sides of the way you see and feel things.
Give yourself the gift of a nice, long, deep savasana or yoga nidra. Shut down the senses, go within, take a holiday inside your true self and reacquaint yourself with life without striving mindlessly. Ask your body and spirit what they need – then listen for the answer. It will be there when you make a quiet space to connect. You can come back to the mat every day as you tame your lifetime conditioning and get back together with your desire for the life you want - not what you feel pressured to do.