This is a story about life meets boy, life beats boy up, and boy survives by working out lots.
(I’ve also fallen back on the support of my family and closest friends, and I can’t express my gratitude for their help enough.)
One of my favourite topics is the body and mind connection, and specifically, physical exercise and emotional health. And MORE specifically, exercise as Red Bull, sedative, meditation, antidepressant, and “elixir of love” (see below).
In our lives, we encounter tragedy, danger, and crisis. Loss of someone close to you, the dissolution of a love relationship, or betrayal by a close friend. These things hurt and cause us to react powerfully. Physics tells us that every action causes a reaction somewhere, so rather than aspiring to become a stone in the face of adversity, how about cultivating healthy and constructive reactions during times of duress? In other words, get through it, but also get back on track and thrive. In my earlier blog post “4 Keys To Keeping Calm“, I describe Patanjali’s tips for appropriate, healthy and beneficial reactions to other people and situations. My life lesson this summer was with “the wicked”, and as a part-time student of Patanjali, I naturally “disregarded” said wicked person. But I needed to really escape into my yoga practice and workout regime to cope and feel safe and sane again. To get back on track and thrive. (My regime involves gyms, trainers, and studio memberships – the perks of working in the fitness industry – but you can also do it yourself with podcasts, running, teaming up with a friend and getting outside, playing sports, or letting YouTube guide you through yoga in your living room.)
Yes, I’ve had “one of those weeks” for the past four weeks, with the result of all that stress being severe fatigue. Switching from Grande- to Venti-sized coffee drinks is a short-term solution, but I aspire to moderation in my use of coffee, like most people. Coming out of Kickboxing, Bootcamp circuit training, and Flow yoga have taken me from drained to sustained, for the rest of my day. A recent personal training session with my friend Michael DeCorte left me buzzing with energy all day, even though his stated goal was to make me hurt! It was the newness and effectiveness of my gym experience that day that unlocked things for me. Another boring routine would not have served me.
Teaching yoga has been perhaps the best sedative all month, because I’m other-focused. It cured that dread-inducing myopia that happens when the greater world disappears and it’s just one person and his or her stuff. Thinking and nurturing others is a fantastic way to lift yourself up. I’m reading The Happiness Project right now; interacting with others with politeness and serving and treating others happens to be one of the suggested tools for happiness. I’m not surprised. In addition, the meditative effects and the breathing of both restorative and flow yoga have been totally on-point here, as sedative.
Yoga, Muy Thai Kickboxing (or any martial art) and the streetcar rides home after weightlifting or circuit training fitness were great for meditation. Runners tell me about their wonderful meditative experiences too. I just hope they’re not near any traffic when this is happening!
Yoga classes, and especially outdoor yoga, gave me boosts all month long. Again, just taking an hour to think of something other than life’s circumstances is a powerful boost. A word of caution: if you are coping with depression, keep your practice as steady and consistent as you can muster. Everyday, ideally. The medical community recommending yoga generally calls for a minimum of twice weekly.
…as “elixir of love”.
All of my physical activity, has in one way or another led me back to face that deep down, best version of myself. That Purusha, that light of consciousness, peace, love and wisdom that has always been there. You have it too. If your workout is not making your life better, then it’s time to experiment and try new things. So at the end of a difficult month, during which I jacked up my physical workout regime, I feel physically so much stronger and calmer, more loving, happier, and energized (back to Grande iced coffee now). I didn’t simply get through it.
Hey, this is exciting… A new, not-for-profit organization called Blu Matter Project helps young adults facing depressive disorders connect with yoga studios across Toronto to help them cope and thrive. Check it out and give, volunteer, or apply to the program yourself. Please like them on Facebook.