Saturday, September 6, 2008

Forward bends and chest openings - Poses for relieving stress and tension

Yesterday was one of those days where too many things just come at me at once at work. I have learned the hard way not to get too comfortable with peace and calmness in my life - the evil spirits of stress have a remarkable way of coming in my face when I least expect them, no matter how yogic I claim I have become. With wonders of modern technology of instant communication we are more likely to get more stressed, more quickly - IN AN INSTANT :-) . We convince ourselves of changes and transformations within to handle stress with calmness.... but there is a reality check when it all blows up on your face in an instant.

It was my good fortune that this wave of stress and anxiety came right before my Friday yoga family session with Nuvana. I packed the kids into the car. We were so late. Yes! we will have ice cream after this, but I do need my yoga practice kids! You will have a swell time screaming and jumping all over me with your two friends, while I lie strapped in some supine pose trying to relax.... Off we drive down hill as Guruji's words "Change has to take place! Transformation has to take place" echo in my ears from the trailer of the movie EnlightenUp . Have a I really transformed? My old demons are back to haunt me. It had been such a peaceful Friday earlier.

We get to Nuvana's house.... I'm profusely apologizing for being late, as we have dovetailed into the dinner time of kids. No problem she says. I just need lots of restorative, my head is going to explode - I remark. Her kids had been eagerly awaiting our arrival, so in no time all four were in their best behavior. I need to bring ear plugs in the future. Somehow we calmed them down to do our OM invocations - but the quietness was immediately interrupted by slapping noises between two, which immediately transformed into massive giggling.

I was immediately instructed into a half Uttanasana on her window ledge. That didn't last for too long either. I was moved into a chest opening with Setu Bandh next. In included for a change a folded a blanket between my legs and the legs strapped around it and the edge of the sand bag on my forehead to push it towards my eyes. We couldn't find the eye pillows. That lasted for about 10 minutes.... all through this I'm un-silent. I am verbalizing my stress. "Evil spirits" exclained Nuvana. They come from your past lives her grandmother told her. You need to get a puja done. I will do anything to get rid of these stress demons I reply. In that moment I am ready to do anything , I believe in everything that could get rid of these demons from my life.

I think you need to try some forward bends, she remarked and I moved to a sitting position of Upavishtakonasana with my arms and head on the Halasana bench that was padded with blankets and two additional blanks one each side for my arms. I am still rambling... between the work problems and my experience of reading the book "First there is a mountain". I need to be quiet, but for some reason, I can't seem to be quite there today. We talked about our personal humorous experiences in Pune.

One topic was of how students are addressed, especially the foreigners, as many I think are challenged by the culture and environment. The teachers' at RIMYI frequently refer to students as "You people". The writer Elizatbeth Kadestky had made her own sarcastic interpretation in the book of the term "You people". I won't quote the words, but I couldn't stop laughing as I read it. We determined that if you don't know hindi, it would be hard to understand that "You people" meant no disrespect. The teachers in Pune think in Hindi or Marathi, or their native tongue and translate to English. "Aap log" is how folks are addressed in Hindi in group settings, which is a very respectful way of saying "You all". "You people" sounds so terse and derogatory. Somewhere in the discussion of Elizabeth Kadestky's book and experiences in Pune, the stress started to dissipate. My mind was distracted to another place, away from the demons.

I wasn't able to get the forward bend I needed with Upavishtakonasana. "Some people can get better bends with Baddha Konasana", Nuvana says. So we switch over to that pose and eventually to Janusirsana poses. All through this there was the screaming of the kids in the background. We decided to empower my oldest to oversee the younger, supervise them - a skill she is learning in school as her class welcome the newcomers (first graders) with whom they as second graders will be partnering with and guiding them through their first year in lower elementary. She too has been "really stressed" in all the preparation work that is required for welcoming these newcomers next week... Ahhh! all this "work", we are being programmed to be stressed at such a young age. That class needs to restart its yoga with me.

I must have been in these variations of sitting forward bends for an hour. The conversations about Pune took my mind completely away from my demons and by the time I was done, the head was no longer exploding and a sense of calmness had returned. We were invited to stay back for dinner. I volunteered to get some "Chole Bhature" from the Indian restaurant we had planned to visit after. The phone buzzed.... the stress never seems to leave me alone, but I handled it fine.

It was a stress free evening from there on, though I know the demons were still lingering around and will for some time, till the next wave of peace and calmness in my life. I recall something I wrote in a earlier post and wish to add the following : "Life is meant to be full of suffering and then we die"..... This elusive happiness we seek is just an illusion, a hope....we should not give up hope, but at the same time, balance hope with action, by going through life the best we can and then change might happen and transformation might happen. There is nothing but a sine wave in the cycle of life.


The Yogi

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