On the way to the studio this morning someone ran in front of the train. He stood there on the track. Luckily the train managed to stop. The man sat on the side of my carriage and lit up a cigarette. 5 police cars, an ambulance and a helicopter arrived. The man quite boldly would not let anyone near him whilst he smoked. He needed some time. And as frustrating as this was as we all sat and waited on the train, I thought ‘he’s taking a moment to breathe deeply’. Ok smoking is obviously terrible for your health. But he was much more anxious than I was. He needed that moment. And it gave me a moment to think how lucky I am. I am not anxious or stressed. I make my life very busy but I have great techniques (not smoking!) to self soothe. And these all come from yoga.
5 self soothing techniques yoga gives you
Yoga opens up your breathing muscles. If you watch those running the marathon this weekend you can observe their breathing at the end. 26 miles and all those accessory respiratory muscles will be in play as the body works to improve airflow, oxygenation and the release of carbon dioxide. In yoga we use, open, and work all of these muscles during poses and specific yogic breathing for the same feeling – elation!
Switch on your healing system
Through deep focused breathing you switch on your parasympathetic nervous system. Literally the healing system of the body. And suppress cortisol, the stress hormone.
If you have 10 things to think about imagine how your mind switches quickly from one thing to the next. Another thing pops in before you have finished the first thought. It’s like being interrupted mid sentence, yet we don’t seem to be aware of it like we would be if having a conversation. Mindfulness literally means being aware. In yoga you become aware of our sometimes incessant thinking. And the scattering effect that can have. We learn to be more present. During the practice this is on the body and the breath. But yoga has this magical way of making you more mindful of everything. And the more you are, the more you enjoy.
This isn’t such an obvious one but in yoga we have a lot of touch. Self touch. Touching your feet, interlacing your fingers, letting your hands rest, hugging yourself. Many poses draw us towards touch. You could try holding your elbows now. Doesn’t it feel more reassuring?
We know that if we move a machine or roll a wheel it produces energy, maybe enough to power something. But are we aware of the energy we can produce ourselves, to feel full of vitality, alive. With a yoga practice we literally harness this energy. We move all of the mini wheels or cogs in our body. We compress and open every cell through the many different yoga poses. And then through the deep focused breathing, bring energy in in abundance.
The beauty of you and your body, is it’s there all the time! You can do yoga anywhere. You don’t have to roll out a mat, get to a class. Although we would love to see you. You can self soothe anywhere. Take a moment. Focus on your breath. Lay one hand on top of the other. The movement, breath and touch give you something to focus on. Even for 30 seconds. See how much you let go. Practice this regularly and you will be able to turn it on whenever you do feel stressed, anxious, and things are becoming too much. How I wish I could have gone through this with the poor man this morning.