• Natalie Mazur Yoga

How to Turn Stress Into Ease with Yoga

Updated: Oct 12


Two common book-ends of a yoga practice are Child’s Pose (Balasana) and Corpse Pose (Savasana).

Child’s pose is a great place to begin and also a pose to come to for rest. From there, poses are added, there are challenges, transitions, pauses, things that feel great, things that are new, moments when you’re in the flow, moments when your mind seems to get in the way, and then finally, Savasana. A moment of relief and letting go, a final relaxation.

You may have noticed a similar-sounding pattern somewhere else too.....our lives !

We all begin our lives, move through a variety of experiences, ups and downs, and then….ya know, "rest."

I know it's a little far-fetched but yoga on the mat often reflects life off of the mat too. It provides a space and opportunity to get perspective about how you're showing up, whether you're in downward dog or in an argument with a friend.

Keeping this analogy in mind, a yoga class can be a really interesting way to gain insight about yourself and the way you live your life. As you come upon challenging portions of class, you may notice that you respond to those challenges in a similar way to the way you respond to challenges off of the mat as well.

Maybe you find that you respond to something difficult with frustration, anger, distracting yourself, or perhaps with curiosity and compassion for the process taking place. We have the opportunity to notice how we respond to situations that are presented to us, in the form of poses as well as obstacles we encounter throughout our lives.

Sometimes it seems that people go through their lives just waiting for savasana, or rather waiting for the quality that savasana embodies: a sense of calm, ease, acceptance for where you are, rest, being nourished, being at peace.

But Savasana is the pose you usually end in, it’s a very small portion of the entire class.

What about everything leading up to Savasana? Why not find that same sense of ease and calm throughout the entire class, even and especially when things are more challenging?

This happens all the time; we’re doing one thing just to get to the next thing. This can show up as working all week just to get to the relief and relaxation of the weekend, as holding your breath during core work in class, rushing through one pose to get to the next pose, or stressing out when we’re traveling to get to another place.

Can we be more present for what’s happening right now?

Can we find ease in the process?

States of stress or reactivity can be purposeful, don’t get me wrong. Our bodies respond to our environment in particular ways so that we are equipped and ready to act if we’re in any sort of danger. Our sympathetic nervous system engages to help us survive. However, if you can take a step back from one of these situations and realize that you’re in no real immediate danger, or realize also that you have no direct control over the situation, then let yourself relax.

You don’t have to wait until Savasana to relax in a yoga class or in your life.

Notice when you're stressing out in traffic, stuck and just want to get to your destination.

Is the stress helpful or not really changing anything?

What happens when you finally get to your destination? Are you waiting to feel happy until then? Are you postponing a sense of ease for some ideal perfect moment when everything is "in it's right place"?

A big part of this experience of suffering is due to resisting what is actually happening.

Imagine a kid really wanting a piece of candy but parents say no and kid throws a tantrum. Kid is so mad and frustrated because now there exists the idea of having something but the reality does not match that idea.

As adults, we can recognize when this sort of thing is happening and accept into the moment. We might still be stuck in traffic but at least now we might be able to savor the time a bit more, perhaps see opportunities we couldn't see before - throw on a podcast or start singing or call a friend.

Essentially, this is part of practicing yoga. Practicing mindfulness, non-reaction, detachment.

Yoga can be challenging in moments of strengthening and endurance for example. But yoga is a practice of conscientiousness, not forcing and attaining and straining. It's about the quality of what you're doing. We can move through our yoga classes (and our lives) deciding to be responsive instead of reactive, curious instead of judgemental, open and flexible rather than in resistance.

Try now, relaxing your jaw, soften your gaze, notice where you can be more gentle with yourself.

Let's choose ease now.

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