Yoga is a discipline right? You have to commit to doing it at the same time each week. The same teacher. The same style. That’s what I used to think.
But when lockdown hit, I found myself floundering on a number of levels. I was frustrated. “There’s no space. I can’t balance on the carpet. To be honest I just want to go out for a walk, not stay inside doing yoga.”
Then a bit of anxiety started to kick in. You know the type that just bubbles up out of nowhere? You’re not sure where it has come from and so it’s hard to know what to do with it. I remembered my very first yoga teacher Diane. With a twinkle in her eye she would say, “Whatever the question, the answer is yoga.”
Coming onto my mat, I realised that the concept of a regular yoga practice was starting to feel irrelevant. I no longer cared what I could do with my body – how it looked on the outside. I needed yoga for my brain. To stay out of fight or flight. To regain a sense of control. And so I started to approach yoga as an essential pause button at various points during the day. I began to think of yoga as a form of supervision. Just as I check in with a supervisor who helps me to monitor my therapeutic work, I began to embrace yoga as a way to check in with my body and with my mind. How am I doing? What do I need right now?
This is the advanced yoga practice. Not the Instagram pictures of beautiful people doing headstands and handstands. But a practice that serves you when you need it most. Gives you clarity and helps you find a way forward when you are stumbling around not knowing what to do next.
I decided to put my ideas into a workshop to help other therapists, coaches, helpers and healers. It’s called ‘Your Brain Loves Yoga’ and it takes place this Monday 1st March at 10am.
In the workshop we will set the scene using neuroscience. Working through a pandemic, what have our brains had to endure? And how does yoga counter feelings of stress and anxiety? When we come onto the mat we turn our awareness inward strengthening the watchtower part of the brain (medial prefrontal cortex). This is sometimes called ‘top down regulation’. And as we start to exhale for longer then we inhale, we dial up the parasympathetic nervous system which is considered to be ‘bottom up regulation’.
But that’s enough theory for now. The workshop is a mixture of theory and practise which is exactly how I like to learn and share ideas with others. As Benjamin Franklin said:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Click here to buy tickets for the workshop. It is by donation so pay what you can. I hope to see you there.
*At The Wellness Project we provide one to one and small group yoga for trauma, anxiety and depression and yoga for couples. We also offer corporate yoga and mindfulness.