I am so excited because I am on my way to Toronto to study with Judith Lasater. Judith is not only an amazing yoga teacher but also physical therapist which means I get to feed my nerd on everything body related!
The workshop is on Restorative Yoga (not to be mistaken with my other love of Restorative Exercise) Restorative Yoga is like adult nap time using props to support the body to bring the body into a restful state by turning down the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight) and turning up the parasympathetic nervous system.
It seems as if our culture is in a constant sympathetic state and we are suffering for it. Have you noticed how so many people are easily agitated, impatient, anxious and depressed these days. It seems to be becoming an epidemic. A lot can be attributed to stress but what is stress really and what simple steps can be done about it right now?
Most people think they know what stresses them out whether it be your teenage daughter or your job but biologically stress happens within us not to us. I will try to make this simple so you don’t blame for stressing you out.
The biological definition of stress is not responding appropriately to a biological signal your body is giving you. For instance, you wake up and you’re hungry but you want to lose a few pounds so you skip breakfast (Please don’t be that person..with health comes beauty..The end) or you have tons of homework, you ignore fatigue, drink a cup of coffee and pull an all nighter. I have been guilty of this. I am trying to treat my body like my best friend (cuz it is) and I don’t want to ignore my best friend anymore.
Ok, let’s say I decided to ignore my best friend. What happens next? A cascading biological shit storm called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis known as the stress response system is activated. When activated, a small area in the brain called the hypothalamus sends a chemical message to the pituitary gland which is also in the brain. From there another chemical message is sent from the brain, through the blood to the adrenal glands (which are above the kidneys) to start producing cortisol. Wow that sounds like a lot of work. (My hands are tired from just writing it!)
This system is amazing when you are getting chased by a bear! Not so great if you decided to skip breakfast!
Our bodies have an extensive to do list. They are constantly regulating, delegating and regenerating 24/7. By not listening to biological cues, an extra chore is put on the to do list which could have been averted simply by responding appropriately.
I will give you an analogy. Let’s say you have one hour to get through all of your emails and each one has to be read entirely, including junk mail and spam. But there is a clincher!! For some reason you keep sending yourself spam which is shoved on your reading list. All emails have to be read no matter what and now you you are on an uphill battle. You know some of those important emails won’t be read and you have done it needlessly to yourself. You’re lucky because there is a hierarchy within your body so the most crucial things will get done but I think regenerating all of me is crucial and I don’t want to put needless tasks like clearing up the cortisol I didn’t really need out of my blood! (I hate extra chores)
These are the things that I am working on not to activated my stress response needlessly:
1. Eat when I am hungry
2. Sleep when I am tired
3. Thanks to my teacher, Sarah Robinette, I have a no rushing policy. This has been seriously life changing
4. I limit screen time after dark. For a while the last thing I did before bed was get an internet fix and the first thing I did in the morning was get an internet fix. Is your Ipad your lover too? Spending time with actual humans is way better than spending time with aluminum, glass and a battery that makes up a mobile device.. Just sayin
What steps are you making?