Living Yoga in Uncertain Times…

Posted by on Apr 20, 2020 in Featured Events | Comments Off on Living Yoga in Uncertain Times…

Living Yoga in Uncertain Times

Greetings world,

I hope this finds you healthy and hunkered down amidst the surge of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 through our world. The word yoga means “union”, and now more than ever our inter-dependence with one another is apparent.  Like the proverbially butterfly’s sneeze, our actions ripple far beyond our immediate sphere.  Our family has been practicing social distancing/ self-quarantining amidst this time of uncertainty, and it is imperative that we all do what we can to preserve our own health, the health of our families and friends, and slow the spread of covid-19 to protect our elders, those who are most vulnerable and the healthcare system itself.

In this time of global uncertainty, stress, fear and other painful states that arise from them are rampant.  This all pervading fear, which causes us to grip tightly to our lives is known to the yogis as Abhinivesha.  Abhinivesha is said to afflict even the wise, so even in this time of extreme social distancing, know that you are in good company:-)  Abhinivesha manifests in us through the stress response known as fight, flight or freeze.  The stress response is the natural intelligence of the body giving us the energy to do what we need to do to keep ourselves safe (ie. prepared adapt)..  However, if the stress response is not regulated, it will cause dis-ease. Stress and fear cause our bodies to tense, our breath to become rapid, shallow or erratic.  They inhibit circulation, digestion and sleep, while causing our bodies to secrete homrmones that compel stress (cortisol, adrenaline) and suppressing the production of neurotransmitters that support our rest and well-bring (serotonin, melatonin, etc). Stress and fear cause tunnel vision, and can lead to excessive worry, anxiety, irritability, obsessiveness, fear of the future, catastrophizing and scarcity mindset.

Maybe you’ve noticed these present in yourself of late?  I have certainly watched them moved through myself and the larger world in waves.  These states of body, mind and energy cause us to act in extreme ways to meet our desire for safety, self-preservation.  We saw it first in the purchasing and preparing of essentials goods, which quickly became hoarding.  Shortly after our preparation, we begin to cling to our limited self-identity and beliefs, creating a sense of “us and them”.  Suddenly, covid-19 became polarizing politically, socially and between those who believed this was a pandemic and those who thought it was overblown.  Now we hear stories about the sales of firearms and ammunition increasing exponentially.

Beyond the very real dangers of covid-19, so much of this is completed by our inability to regulate stress, and the fear of imagining an uncertain future.   SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

1) Stay home, Practice vigilant hygiene and heed the advice of scientific experts in social distancing and best practices for mitigating the spread of covid-19.  Even simple things light getting a flu shot can lighten the burden on our community and healthcare system.  Seek out  information from trustworthy, non-partisan sources.

2) Be mindful and moderate in your media consumption.  When urged to stay home, many turn to there devices for connection and dopamine. Yet they also compel our stress.  It is important to stay informed, yet not over consume. Remember what you consume through your senses, especially what you read and listen to is what you are feeding your mind.   Just as excessive or poor diet will create physical illness, excess or unskillful consumption of information will toxify your mind, and compel stress, fear, anger, etc.  This moderation of sensory intake is half of the yogic virtue of pratyahara, turning the mind inward.

3) Utilize yoga and self-care practice to mitigate stress and maintain well-being as best you can.  This includes regular holistic yoga practice, healthy diet and sleep, exercise, time in nature and time for self reflection.  I am happy to share with you four free practices for  your well-being and equanimity during this time:

  1. Hatha Yoga for calming fear and the stress response (30min.)
  2. 61-point guided relaxation (13 min.)
  3. Antahkarana Meditation for establishing mental equanimity and witness awareness (18 min.)
  4. Yoga Nidra for Healing and Rejuvenation (25 min.)
  5. Mini practice with Angela on YouTube

Angela and I will be launching more and more content accessible virtually.  Many yoga studios, including One Yoga, where we teach, are offering streamable on-line classes.  This is a great way to support yourself and the yoga studios offer communities which are primarily small, independent businesses and non-profits.  Your yoga practice is not just about your own well-being.  It is a time tested means to awaken to our interconnectedness, our union (yoga), which in challenging times allows us to respond with courage, clarity, connection and love, rather than reacting with fear and othering.

4) Do (or don’t do) anything you can to support the well-being of the larger whole.  For as many of us as possible, this means staying home.   Find safe ways to check in and stay connected with your loved ones, and those who are most vulnerable to the potentially severe effects of Covid-19.    Many of us also have incredible gifts and talents, materially and non-materially which we can share.  Times of change, challenging as they are, are also opportunities for creativity, for new life to come forth.

As the interdependence of our world becomes increasingly clear, these times will be largely shaped by how we respond our shared challenges. Whether it is Covid-19, climate change, human migration, the violence and vast inequities of our society, etc., the challenges of living in an interconnected world can not be resolved through the worldview of us and them.  It is imperative that as we aspire to establish our own safety and wellbeing, we also think beyond our narrow self-interests.  Are we willing to change our ways of being to be more inclusive and aware of our our lives touch one another? What is your place within and offering to the greater whole?  Are you willing to share what you have, materially or non-materially to allow the greater whole of life to thrive?

Please be vigilant, be responsible, be kind and be inclusive.

 We are in this together and we shall endure.  

With Love, Ben + Angela

Hari Om Tat Sat