We live in a fast, paced society in which, for many the goal is efficiency, and high speed. This obsession with quick and efficient needs to be balanced with calm and slow.
Imagine a set of weighing scales with these two pairs of things at opposite sides. There needs to balance, but why? When our life is out of balance,it has an impact on our body. Our autonomic nervous system is made up of 2 branches;the first, the sympathetic nervous system, kicks in when we need to act quickly, our heart rate goes up, blood pressure rises,and we get ready for action. The second, parasympathetic nervous system comes into play when we relax, calm down, our heart rate and breathing slows, and our blood pressure lowers. Many people’s nervous system is out of balance, they are constantly on alert,and ready to react. This can cause anxiety,irritability, and sleeplessness. How can we restore the balance?
Stillness, quiet, and calm, are words we love, but we resist actually allowing ourselves to experience them.. Why is this? Do we associate stillness with laziness? Are we conditioned into thinking that we have to be active in order to gain better health and fitness? After all, how can we achieve something as valuable as peace, and calm by doing nothing? We are brought up to believe that to achieve a goal we have to be proactive.
Or do we resist stillness because when our body is still, often our mind continues to move, bringing about thoughts that we do not want to acknowledge? There are many ways in which we can experience calm and stillness. One of these is through meditation, or through Yin Yoga (when postures are held for a long time) or Restorative Yoga (when postures are supported, and can be held for a long time).When our body is supported and still, it starts to relax and when our body relaxes our mind also starts to relax. We can use meditation to continue to quiet the mind.
Our lives ARE busy and the pace of life for many shows no sign of slowing down, but we can help ourselves by taking time for stillness and quiet in order to redress any imbalance. We often consider certain activities to be “relaxing”. Watching TV, reading, meeting friends, it could be argued are relaxing. They certainly give pleasure and may lead to the release of tension and, consequently, help us to relax. However, these activities still stimulate our brain, require physical effort, and may even create tension. When we meditate or undertake the yoga described above, our eyes are closed which cuts down brain stimulation. Our body is fully supported which greatly reduces tension in the body, and because of this the body, and breath relax, which in turn, quietens the mind.
I touched earlier on the possibility that stillness can cause us to confront thoughts and feeling which we would rather push aside. It can be a very difficult process to work through such emotions but this can prove beneficial in the long term. Perhaps our reluctance to be still stems from our mindset of needing to be busy. However, we must embrace stillness and calm as they may be what we need to maintain a balance in our bodies and our lives. Let us allow ourselves, just to “be” and not to “do”.
Written By: Katie Bennett.
I am a Yoga teacher based in Sheffield. I have been a yoga teacher for 12 years, I hold an instructor Diploma with British School of Yoga. Since qualifying I have continued to study and also hold BSY qualifications in Advanced Yoga Teaching, Pre and Post Natal Yoga, Relaxation Therapy and a certificate of Merit in Eating Disorders. I feel passionately that everyone can benefit from Yoga, whatever their age, sex, or physical health. As well as teaching I love to write about Yoga and its benefits on our day to day life.