Health/Wellness

Keeping Calm In Chaos

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It’s mid-October in New York City. There was a crisp chill in the morning air as I exited the front door of my yoga studio. I rushed through misty rain down to the subway, where I was instantly warmed, standing sandwiched in between people on a packed train. As I looked over my shoulder, I overheard a couple of guys arguing about music being played too loud on a passengers iPhone. Then some lady, totally oblivious, stepped on my brand new Nike’s as I tried to get off at my stop. I sprinted up the stairs and emerged on the street above to find that a little morning drizzle had escalated to a heavy down pour. With no hood or umbrella, I walked as fast as I could through my neighborhood and suddenly I came to a halt at a red light. I was stuck waiting in the pouring rain just one block away from my apartment. Finally, I got the walk signal. I stepped into the crosswalk, and was nearly hit by a taxi driver who angrily slammed on his horn right in front of my face. What a start to the day!

This is a good reflection of a typical morning in the city. A series of uncontrollable events that could turn into the perfect recipe to force most people into a bad mood. Honestly, you don’t have to live in a big city to begin your day with loud noises, chaos and negative energy. You can run into disruption anywhere, but it’s how you handle it that matters most.

 

Believe it or not, none of the madness I encountered that morning had any affect on me. I managed to push through the noise totally unbothered, and I owe it all to my yoga class. I was left with an incredible high after the 60-minute sweat session where I was able to completely tune out the world and fully focus inward.

I often experience a powerful high during yoga classes. Often, the feeling stays with me throughout the rest of my day, sometimes even longer. I smile all day and it seems as if nothing can ruffle my feathers. Yoga is more than a workout to me, it’s like a form of therapy. Through my yoga practice, I’ve learned that when I detach from my thoughts I find liberation. Yoga is so much bigger than exercise, it’s freeing.

When I practice yoga, magic happens on my mat! While I stretch and strengthen my body I’m also nourishing my mind and soul. Through my practice, I’ve discovered the importance of mindfulness and I’ve created life changing habits. Yoga has taught me how to be present and how to use my breath to stay in the moment. Before beginning to hold postures and poses, most instructors encourage the class to internally heat up their bodies using ujjayi pranayama meaning “victorious breath”. Ujjayi is an audible breath and internal sound used to anchor the busy mind. The ujjayi breath is both energizing and calming. My goal is to synchronize my breath with the movement making my yoga practice more rhythmic.

 

Not only does my breath power me through my workout, I use it to get through life’s daily obstacles. Now when I get honked at for no reason or someone scuffs my kicks, I just take a deep breath and let it go. I’ve noticed improvements like this in many different areas of my life simply from practicing yoga.

It’s taught me patience, forgiveness and kindness. I had to learn to be gentle with my body, never forcing myself into a pose that does not feel right. Holding postures should never hurt, and if they cause pain I have permission to stop, modify or simply rest. Because of yoga, I’m now able to identify limits and boundaries. I’ve learned to accept myself. No matter if I’m on my mat or not, I have the right to step away from all that does not best serve me.

Yoga has also introduced me to the world of meditation. The series of movements I flow through in an hour long class are extremely challenging. I often find myself in difficult or uncomfortable positions, and that’s when I need to be mentally present the most. It’s important for me to remember that it’s only temporary and the moment will pass, just like when I face issues in life. I use my breath and know that I’m powerful enough to get through any situation without letting the bad get the best of me. Walking through a little rain never hurt anybody, and there are no obstacles big enough to dim my light.

Healthy lifestyle blogger based in New York City with a Journalism degree from Michigan State University. Brittany currently works for the NBA and is vegan with a passion for yoga and meditation. 

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