Saturday, December 31, 2011

The effects of yoga

For the past month I was working on a paper and final revisions of my thesis, and my yoga studio membership had expired, so I hadn't been going to yoga classes much at all. Even after I completed everything and felt a huge mental and physiological relieve that I was done school, for the past couple days, I hadn't slept well or felt well within the body. My ashtangi friends invited me to their house for mysore practice on Christmas day, which was lovely, since I haven't done the primary series for ages (lacking discipline to practice it on my own). It was also wonderful to be able to spend time discussing yoga with them and enjoy delicious food prepared by my friends (I am so spoiled). The next day I felt sore everywhere and my hamstrings felt overstretched, and I still had trouble sleeping at night.

It worked out that the studio was selling some relatively cheap single class passes for December so I purchased some and started going back to the studio again. I ended up taking a pilates class, a hot yoga class, and a vinyasa flow class. Last evening I noticed the therapeutic magic of continuous practice of yoga. The past couple of weeks I had been experiencing uneasiness within. The inner body was unhappy and anxious for no reason. The night before, I woke up at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep, so I attempted a short CD guided sitting meditation. The center of the chest under the rib cage felt like it was going numb and about to die off. I  was so anxious I wanted to stand up and run away, but the CD said to sit and feel the body, observe any thoughts and sensations that happen, so I had to force myself to sit for 30 minutes while different parts of the body went numb and then turned into pins and needle sensations. It was miserable. But after last night's practice, even though certain muscles are very sore, I felt like the crazy energy and sensations inside the body were gone. So many people think of yoga as a work out or stretching, but I really think it has a huge soothing effect on the subtle body.

I did another practice hot yoga practice today because it was taught by a teacher who always make me smile from the bottom of my heart whenever I see him. It was another great practice (sometimes I don't know if it's the yoga teacher or the yoga; it's probably an additive effect). I thought the calm and pleasant feeling would last me through the night, until I called my mom to say happy new year, and the conversation ended badly, even though neither of us wanted this to happen. I think I'm beginning to understand why some regions of the world (Africa and Middle East come to mind) are permanently in conflict, even though everybody involved really wants peace.

Anyways, after I hung up the phone, a whole bunch of negative memories, associations, stories came up and fueled my anger + discontentment. Then that washed over and went away. I checked in to the inner body: it's still maintaining that post-yoga calm. This in turn prevents me from hanging on to the drama and  going to bed angry. I think some of the indescribable discomforts in the body are associated with certain emotions or memories. Feeling that discomfort triggers negative emotions, and anxiety ensues when the discomfort refuses to go away. When the nadis are clear, good and bad feelings come and go freely, without the body holding onto the bad emotions.

Lesson learned: a regular practice of yoga works for the subtle body like fiber does for the bowels - it keeps the channels clear and so I don't become a chronic emotional mess. Temporary emotional episodes are probably unavoidable in life and as long as they pass through, I am okay dealing with them.


  1. True! Yoga and other forms of exercise are amazing stress-relievers for me.

    - online yoga community

  2. Thank you Carol and ces. Sometimes though I need to sit still though and quiet my mind, which is much harder than yoga. Maybe yoga = beginner's meditation?

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