April 20 | The results |
Our six are the multi-dimensional results of a consistent yoga practice: Stronger, Leaner, Calmer, Clearer, Braver, Further. But have you ever really thought about these words? What they mean to you, and how they apply to your practice both on and off the mat? We're diving into each of our 6 results, one at a time. CALMER is result #3 of our 6.
CALMER is one of the words most associated with yoga. Many turn to the practice to unwind and reduce stress, and physiologically this makes sense. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing - which is the most important part of any yoga practice - activates parasympathetic nervous system. This initiates a relaxation response that calms body and mind.
In a mellow Yin or Restorative class, the calming effect of yoga is easy to see and understand. Class moves at a gentle pace, the poses are accessible, and yoga props – blocks, bolsters, straps and blankets – are used throughout the practice. But what about the more vigorous styles of yoga? Are they calming? If so how?
Great question! While it seems counterintuitive at first the answer is really quite simple. Yoga works to calm the body NOT because the poses are relaxing but because they are stressful. Our attempts to remain calm and breathe through periods of discomfort, be it a deep twist or backbend, create yoga’s greatest neurological benefit. Though practice we learn how to recognize and manage the body’s physical response to stress.
Definition of Calmer: To make or become quiet; stillness.
Poses for Calmer: Pigeon, legs up the wall, child’s pose, happy baby, savasana.
We asked a few of our students and teachers to share what feeling CALMER means to them, in body, mind and life. Check out what they had to say.
Calmer in BODY: "I might be in a straight jacket or prison if it weren’t for yoga. I used to be very reactionary (and still fly off the handle on occasion), but it happens less and less frequently thanks to my practice. Nowadays when I’m triggered and feel that “fight or flight” sensation coming on I immediately pause and breathe – slow, full and steady. Within a few breaths I feel my shoulders lower, my neck relax and my jaw release."
Calmer in MIND: “Yoga provides my best state of mind – but I didn’t realize this until I took a break from my practice. When I practice consistently my mind is lighter, I am softer, happier and nothing is too urgent. When I don’t practice I become more reactive, overwhelmed and less willing to give my time and energy to loved ones. My husband noticed these differences early on in my yoga journey. Subsequently he purchased my first membership.”
Calmer in LIFE: "The awareness I developed on my yoga mat certainly follows me into life. The rise and fall of stress I experience in my body when I practice is no truly no different than the ebb and flow of emotion and energy throughout the day. Knowing physical sensation eventual subsides reassures me that my emotions will do the same. Now when I feel the tinges of stress or sadness I connect to the lessons learned on my yoga mat – things eventually hit a tipping point, and I will always come out on the other side."