I got into yoga because I have a pretty high stress job. My brain always felt like a hamster on a wheel. Always running running running and not going anywhere. I started therapy, and that has helped me, but my therapist recommended that I do some exercise to boost my confidence and help me sleep at night. I started jogging, and it turns out that I hate jogging. I thought her advice was good, though, and so I joined a gym and started experimenting to find something that worked for me. I went into yoga sort of by accident. There was a class offered at my gym when I was there and so I took it.
At first, I felt a little intimidated but the instructor was really good. He and helped me adapt the poses that felt too challenging for me. At the end of the class, during shivasana, when I was told we get to lay there quietly, I thought my brain was going to explode and it would be a great waste of time. It turned out that the hamster of my brain was actually rested and still. If you would have told me that just a couple of weeks before, I would not have believed you. Yet there I was, feeling closer to being at peace than I ever have in my whole life. And that feeling is really addicting!
There is something about holding poses and concentrating on breath and balance that really calms me down. Meditation! Something else that I never thought I would do: sit still for an extended period of time. People who know me would say it was impossible. I pretty much thought it was impossible.
Well, it turns out that I had meditation all wrong. First of all, you don’t have to do meditation sitting down. Some of my most successful meditation sessions have been lying down. The second thing is that you don’t have to clear your mind entirely. It is really really hard to stop your brain from thinking things and to get it to stop responding to stimuli. Just because your eyes are closed does not mean that your sense of hearing, touch, taste, and smell have disappeared.
The key to meditating is to acknowledge what you’re thinking and to let it pass without judgement. It sounds a lot easier than it is, but just like anything else, you get better over time. Nowadays, I sort of visualize my thoughts as balloons while I am meditating. I let them float up and away from me. I don’t let my thoughts get tangled together in their strings, and I don’t grab hold of any of them.
I especially like to combine yoga and meditation because I feel like it helps me get the most out of my yoga class. It is a workout for my body and my mind! Yoga helps me feel centered and calm, and then meditation allows me to accept and process all of my thoughts. I can let go of the negative feelings I have and accept the positive ones. It’s amazing how much better my outlook can be after a session!
If you feel wound up or stressed out all the time, maybe this is something you can try to help yourself out.