Our topic this month is stress – yes something that we all experience in some form or other, some of us on a daily basis whether it’s trying to get everyone out the door and be on time for work or short term stress such as selling a house, losing a job or a relationship breakdown. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives and it is a natural part of our journey on this earth. Stress comes in many different forms and so too does coping with it.
It is well known that exercise is good for stress (it releases the feel good endorphins) as well as being in the moment with people being encouraged to practice Mindfulness on a daily basis. Yoga combines the two so I volunteered to take myself off to a yoga class.
We are fortunate here in Wexford to have numerous, experienced and qualified yoga instructors but recently I have been hearing quite a lot about Linda O’Grady founder of Sadhana Yoga.
Linda is a Yoga and Pilates teacher, Therapist and Wellness Coach, with 18 years’ experience in holistic health (nutrition, herbal medicine, bodywork) and Yoga. She teaches classical Hatha Yoga using the Vinyasa krama system.
Below is Linda’s account on how yoga can help with stress in particular:
When we sit to breathe/be present/meditate we realise that we have a stiff, tense body which is a distraction and is a barrier to breathing fully. We also become aware of the mind activity and this too can be a barrier to “staying” with what is.
Through the practice of asana (posture), pranayama (breath connection), dharana (concentration) we give the mind something directed to focus on – Sensation and Breath – allowing us the opportunity to move into a quieter state of mind.
The other aspect of consistent practice is that it frees our body of obstructions allowing us internal space to move and breath fully. Sadness has a “Shape’, we can all relate to this and the sense of it, heavy, stagnant. The breath is affected, becoming shallow and superficial. Our mind resides in every cell of our body and the practice of Yoga helps us to connect with and become more aware of our internal states of mind. Yoga is an experiential science of self-study (Svadhyaya) which can help us to cultivate personal awareness and deal with our responses to life that create Stress, Anger, Overwhelm.
The teachings of Yoga are relevant to everyday situations and can be explored in a practical manner each time we step onto the mat. This allows us to practice the qualities of Restraint, Letting Go, Staying, during the practice as we feel physical or mental discomfort arise. We learn about the shadow aspects of ourselves and practice the skills to manage our emotions and mental activity is everyday life.
My first impression was one of relaxation and ease, there was a lovely atmosphere in the room and everyone there wanted to be there. Not having done yoga for a long time I obviously found it a bit difficult to keep up with the instructions but Linda was very patient and was constantly moving around the room checking and correcting peoples positions – a little lift here, a little nudge there. But as Linda says she will never take the body where it doesn’t want to go so it is all about staying within your own limits – but to the edge of your limits – no just turning up to get some time out of the house or away from the kids!
After the class I spoke to someone who has been going to Linda’s classes for six years and says she is still constantly learning and progressing. According to Linda is takes ten years to connect with the breath so it certainly seems like a lifelong commitment although benefits are felt instantaneous too – I slept like a log and woke up with my muscles feeling used in a way they haven’t in a while.
The class I took part in was not strictly a restorative class but a class where students can progress and develop but I know I was concentrating so much that I certainly left all my worries and stresses at the door. A whole hour and a half of thinking about nothing else except breathing and moving!
Linda’s classes cater for all levels so make sure to check out her website for all updated timetables and information. She also regularly runs Restorative Workshops which apparently are a thoroughly therapeutic experience that will leave you feeling connected, grounded and at peace – isn’t that what we all want?