Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunshine, Blue Skies and Beaches…Why Yoga?

Bermuda is known for its sunny disposition, faultless blue skies and squeaky clean beaches, untouched by the oil spill in the Gulf, as we know it (right now). What Bermuda is not known for, is its stress.

“Bermuda is stressy!” say young folks, (usually under the age of 25) like my two girls.

Many visitors to our Island in The Sun always say, “Why do you need yoga with such sunny blue skies, such lovely beaches?” An obvious answer might be, “Why not?” And, the not so obvious one? Bermuda is hard work! Behind the well-put-together lady in pink, there is a lot of angst on the Rock, that will take more than a long visual drink of God’s lovely creation to dissolve.

As a vacation destination, it takes money to rendezvous in Bermuda; but also, it takes money to “live” here as well. There are no cheap meal tickets! People work hard (two or three or four jobs – or a four-rolled-into-one job) just to stay afloat. There is little time for the sun, less time for the beach; and blue skies are covered by cool air conditioned roofs, if we’re lucky, and if not, there’s a fan, but a roof overhead nonetheless! Despite what popular tourism ads may say, there is never enough time to “just be” outside or elsewhere, for too many locals (as we are called), too often.

So how do Bermudians and those fortunate enough to live and work on our Rock Island “paradise” relieve stress? Well, “Bermudians like to drink..” and eat, but mostly drink. And, sometimes we run, or walk or cruise along the island shores in boats (on weekends and holidays); and sometimes we do yoga.

Amid the stress of the decline in jobs, increase in cost of living, enhanced frustration and anger from the same old going on at the same time, for too long; and, growing violence and fear ( of what is and what undoubtedly will be for us in the future – if we keep on the same path); Bermudians who back in the day would smile, saunter and ease into their day and about their business, now jostle, kick or stamp to maneuver and take control from one day to the next. More so than ever before, many living in Bermuda are mentally stressed to the hilt, which too easily is transformed into a stiff (beyond the upper lip), painfully tight bodily posture and an overly defensive, over-charged mental attitude. As a consequence more and more people today, at least at our yoga studio, are taking to the floor on their mats, to work out their stuff, aka STRESS!!

Hatha Yoga Illustrated, by Martin Kirk, Brooke Boom and Daniel DiTuro says “Hatha Yoga can calm the mind, provide a gentle workout, or make you sweat. It can reduce your heart rate when you are stressed or elevate it by providing a vigorous workout. “

But hatha yoga, the physical aspect of yoga, according to classical yoga tradition, is more than just a workout. According to A.B. Mohan in Yoga for Body and Breath and Mind, it is about Personal Reintegration. Mohan says, “True personal reintegration encompasses all elements of our lives. Accordingly, the yogic approach is an integrated one, in which all aspects of one’s being will be touched…..These aspects include the body, breath, mind, food, the behavior of the senses, habits, society, and environment of the individual.”

Hatha Yoga, in its truest sense, can relieve the stress of pain and angst held in and pushed down and imbedded in our bones. The kind of stress, that Ronald Rolheiser intimates, does not go away when we go on vacation. In article Getting Down to Essentials, 2010 06-27, Rolheiser says “ The most tired and stressed part of us ‘does not’ get to go on vacation, ‘does not’ get to let go and relax, and ‘does not’ find itself warmed by wine and friends.” He ultimately prescribes “forgiveness” which is a whole other posting, but hatha yoga, also does help in getting to this bone deep stress.

In Yoga, the Body, Breath and Mind, Mohan also says, “The Broadest goal of your yoga practice is to reintegrate and clarify your vision…….In aiming to bring about personal reintegration, yoga is also about the pursuit of real freedom.”

Sunshine and lovely beaches can’t do that….they can only give us something to focus on, once the balance of what really matters, is already set.

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