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When we look at what we are bombarded with on a daily basis from television, world news, jobs, school, social media platforms which, in my opinion are the bane of humanity, it would require a steady, focused mind NOT to be anxious. Now, add on top of the external stressors, those within the walls of your home. Kids and all that goes along with them, spouse, pets, familial dynamics, maybe elderly parents who need care or are ill, bills, trying to save money, trying to be healthy, trying to get some good quality sleep. Are you starting to get the picture that life is stressful? it is for all of us. Everyone has their share of stress, do not delude yourself into thinking otherwise. Some people hide it well, others manage it better but stress is ever present and unavoidable if you're living your life. The key to happiness and being content is managing the stress not letting the stress manage you.

I don't know too many people who leave a yoga class feeling wired. Most of us gain a sense of peace or calm, relaxation, or stress relief during the 60-75 minutes you're on your yoga mat. Why is it so challenging to do the same thing, and cultivate the same feelings off the mat? Because old, detrimental habits need to be broken. Our default way of moving through life needs to shift. The only way to do that is through practice and awareness, and most importantly, meditation. Now, I am not suggesting that you begin immediately trying to sit cross-legged for a 1/2 hour attempting to clear your mind of every thought. You will fail! Change is gradual. Begin with very short periods of time. 2-5 minutes of just being quiet and still. That is all that needs to happen in the beginning. Setting aside this time every day, is transformational. We have convinced ourselves that it is necessary to constantly be doing something. As someone who used to subscribe to that philosophy, I can tell you that you don't need to and you will be much happier the sooner you make peace with the idea of being still.

When you are on your mat, BE ON YOUR MAT. Make sure to be fully present, mentally as well as physically. This provides a completely different experience and you will be able to notice what happens in your mind and body when certain practices are offered and then, you can continue to practice them off the mat. Diaphragmatic breathing is so simple and so available but most of us breathe into our chests as a result of anxiety. This type of breathing brings about short, shallow breaths which do not offer any relief from stress or bring about peace or clarity. We have to "re-learn" how to breathe as we did in infancy. Deep into the belly, with effortless flow.

I would like to invite you to challenge yourself to forget about your phone for periods of time throughout the day. Go radio silent. Get off social media. Turn off the news if you find it weighing on your psyche. Instead, spend time outside, socialize with people whose company you enjoy, engage with your family, practice yoga daily in some way, give yourself some quiet time each day. These are such simple things to do and yet we find it so difficult to do them. Begs the question WHY? Why do we engage in behaviors known to bring about anxious thoughts and feelings? And why don't we engage regularly in those behaviors known to bring about ease and peace and happiness? You may be stuck. Stuck in your ways of thinking, your default behavior, the cycle of anxiety. Understand and believe that nothing is permanent. Each moment is temporary. You have the ability to create a different reality for yourself, you just have to whole-heartedly commit to doing it. Don't be stuck, don't live in the past, and don't worry about the future. Begin shifting the way you think and react right now by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath and what you want most for yourself out of life. Only you can make the change. I will be here to help if you need it.

Om shanti

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