Rythm and Your Health
When I sent out the first email of this particular incarnation on my newsletter, I said that stress has a very detrimental effect on women’s health. It all has to do with hormones that we have that make us women becoming hormones that harden us and make us crazy. It’s challenging enough to deal with all the hormonal changes that happen throughout our lives never mind adding to that the imbalances caused by stress.
Stress comes from a variety of places: The food you eat. The amount of sleep you get. The kind of exercise you choose. Even the way you keep your environment can make or reduce your stress. One thing I see people struggle with the most (and I am one who finds this challenging as well), is being able to maintain a healthy rhythm throughout the day, week, year and your whole lifetime.
To have a ritual and be able to develop habits that are appropriate and life affirming is really important to our health. Think about it…your heart beats in a rhythm (and darn it…I’m going to be able to spell that word right by the time I get to the end of this blog!). Your breath has a rhythm to it. We live in a world that is rhythmic- day to night, summer-fall-winter-spring, birth-life-death. Yoga calls this spanda. Which means simply pulsation, and when we are in rhythm- when we participate in the spanda of life- we are healthiest.
Doesn’t that make sense? A musician friend of mine said that sometimes the members of her musical group will switch instruments and play something they have never played before, and if they play all in rhythm with each other, it almost doesn’t matter if they are playing with skill. It still sounds good. That is so cool to me.
I know some people who can start a new habit and keep it going infinitely. They stick to this rhythm no matter what is happening in their life. On the one hand…I might say these people are really gifted and we should all strive to be like them, but the other hand says that being too rigid can be a detriment as well. There are the people who don’t even put their clothes on the same way twice (that would be me, by the way). There is no habit. No ritual. No rhythm at all to their day. They go with the flow and are very adaptable which comes in handy in this ever changing world we live in, but as you probably already can tell, there is a peril to that way of going about things as well.
Yoga is about walking that fine line between those two types of people. How can you stick with a daily routine, that supports you through life’s challenges and fun, but you are still able to recognize when you might need to adjust according to the circumstances of life at the moment? Well my friends (I say with a sigh), that is actually the question. The real question and the real work we have to do while we are here. This is the razor’s edge. You find a way of playing out your routine and still maintain flexibility. You can do this daily routine without thinking about it and yet you are very aware of what you are doing so you know when to make a shift. Can you discern between the wants of your ego (I’m too busy today to meditate today) or the needs of your spirit (I am sick, and I need to rest)? While the system of Yoga is way more than just the practice of doing poses, the poses and the time spent on the mat are great tools in practicing that discernment. In those quiet moments of breath and movement coming together to unwind and strengthen your body, you can learn to listen to your body and your heart. In those quiet moments of sitting in meditation, you learn perspective. You can observe the space between you and your troubles so you can act well and not react badly.