There is an inside joke about yoga. “Hi, I’m Cara and yoga ruined my life.” You laugh, but it’s the truth. You start out looking for a way to de-stress and let go of all the crap that builds up day after day and then all of a sudden, it penetrates every fiber and molecule of your heart, mind and soul and changes you. You start to desire cleaner food. You want the heat and the detox daily. You find yourself getting stronger mentally and physically and when you return to anything prior to yoga…it feels like absolute and utter shit. Now, this is not to discourage you from investing in a yogic practice or lifestyle. Many people practice yoga and still eat tons of bacon (me until 2 months ago) and party and do not meditate for a millisecond. There may not be an intention to integrate the breath with the asanas (yoga postures) that is all just fine. People say to me all the time, “I so need to get into your studio. I have zero flexibility.” Well, my friend, yoga isn’t about getting flexible in your human. It’s about getting flexible in your soul.
There are numerous studies on the benefits of yoga. Western medicine is recognizing the powers of the practice and actually prescribing it to patients for everything from pain reduction to post-traumatic stress disorder. In short summary, yoga works on two levels….stress reduction and stress induction. Every time a forward fold posture is taken the body is in repair mode by rejuvenating adrenals from cortisol production and release. Every time the body is in a backbend the body goes into stress mode actually releasing cortisol. But here’s the magic, you are integrating breath and feel relaxed, so the response to the stress changes. It not only changes in your yoga practice, but in your day-to-day life. The chakras, or energy centers, within the body start to align, open up and balance and then the shift occurs. You realize that you do not need adrenaline and cortisol to function everyday. You actually need it for a seriously stressful situation and when those stressful situations occur, you can deal. You feel the feels, breathe and know….this too shall pass. I know it sounds so cliché, but it actually works. Yoga is being introduced into prisons, in the healthcare and emergency response fields as a way to counsel, debrief and release. On an emotional level, it is the only tool I have found that alters your chemistry without artificial chemicals.
I think it seems relatively rationale as to why I would leave my stressful job for a life of yoga. I mean, why not? I had no ties, no responsibilities and I was burned out. After being in “yoga” pretty intensely with teacher trainings, doing yoga sometimes 8 hours a day, I found the energy in my body starting to change. As I walked into work everyday, I found myself unable to tolerate the energy of the operating room and hospital. It wasn’t because I no longer wanted to help people, I just no longer could help people in that environment. How so, you say? It takes a badass bitch to run an OR. You are responsible for lives. Hundreds of people daily being induced into comas and waking up 30 minutes to hours later. There is little time for connection on an intimate level and there are so many competing interests (regulatory agencies, surgeons, patients, employees) and decisions that need to be made quickly and without hesitation, that compassion can be taken advantage of if you are not on point. A wrong decision can be made if you are not clear about your role and not focused. My reserves for badass behavior needed to soften if I was to create room for anything that contained connection and realness. Recognizing that I was burned out, but also recognizing that I was softening, I can say, yoga ruined my life….and I am totally ok with that.
If you are resisting yoga, there is a reason for it. You will change. The body doesn’t want change, it craves stability. So, you will grow and change and you will discover that life will be different, but it will be better. Your life will be better as it vibrates on an even keel. So many of us operate at mach ten with our hair on fire or dead on the couch. There are still days that I return to that habit, that behavior, but, I cannot tolerate that energy for long. Staying level and on an even keel is so much more sustainable and rewarding. It’s that continued even vibration that allows for more presence, deeper connections and an awareness of what your human and soul are truly needing.
Yoga may be the answer, but maybe not. I think the bigger question is, don’t we all deserve that connected, aware human experience? Don’t we all deserve to find something that lights us up and resonates on every level allowing for personal growth and lasting change? Don’t YOU deserve to find what that is for yourself? Our human experience can be over in a heartbeat. Find that thing allows for softness, for connection and for an even keeled, soul changing experience.