I’ll be honest until recently I was a coffee-addicted workaholic with an inability to just chill. I was usually bursting with manic energy caused by the overload of caffeine and I was prone to turbulent emotional outbursts (no I didn’t go full-hulk or anything don’t worry). Instead of reflective, I was reactive. Examples of this in case you were wondering:
- Tired from lack of sleep due to not relaxing before bed, I would get easily upset over conversations I would overthink into the ground.
- My motivation came in bursts when I wasn’t excessively fatigued or overwhelmed.
- I would receive a basic email from a boss and find myself fuming over this for days.
By December, I was struggling to accept I was so stressed and I knew that I was sick of who I was becoming. I found myself on the edge of burnout and it was only then I accepted I was allowing myself to be stressed.
The external factors were nothing compared to the internal dialogue I was having on a daily basis with myself. I was repeatedly telling myself I was a failure, I wasn’t good enough and so on. It didn’t matter if no one had actually said anything negative to me, my mind blew up the most basic conversations ten-fold to the point where there was no other explanation for my current setbacks, I was the problem.
I was right but just not in the way my brain made me think.
I was the problem but it wasn’t because my real impact on the world was awful. I was the problem because my thinking got in the way of everything. I was never present.
That’s when I decided to call it quits on the rubbish my brain was repeatedly feeding me. I set up a habit tracker, I challenged myself to not only to do yoga every morning before getting ready for the day, I limited my full-caffeine coffee intake to 2 cups a day which was a challenge because before I was edging on 6 coffees a day, and I also set myself the challenge of ten minutes of meditation every day.
Within one week, I felt great.
I was able to distance myself from being reactive, I felt the massive hill (it was practically vertical) to my office was more achievable, I could focus on each muscle I was using to walk instead of fixating on the email onslaught I faced every morning, and more importantly I felt more aware of my body.
Not only did I feel better, I was more aware that parts of my body were tightening up. I could see definition on my arms and back that had never been there before. It was easier to fit into a pair of jeans and my waist become a waist instead of a block.
According to the National Health Services in the UK, most studies have shown that yoga is a safe way to “increase physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance”; they also stated that “there’s some evidence that regular yoga practice is beneficial for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains — including lower back pain — depression and stress”. So there you have it, yoga is surprisingly a good thing — who knew? [sarcasm]
Yoga has shown benefits beyond the yoga mat. As referenced by Harvard Health publishing, those who practice yoga are more aware of their bodies and they are also more likely to be happy with their body. They also found that people who practiced yoga were more aware of the food they were putting into their bodies and yoga is now being included in some cardiac rehabilitation programmes for its benefits for cardiovascular health.
The benefits of yoga started to seep into every part of my day. If I didn’t do yoga first thing then I would know, I could feel the difference and I was very aware I needed to do something before the day ended to make up for it. Literally 20 minutes of yoga every morning has made me a calmer more focused person.
Not only did yoga itself become a routine part of my day, meditation became more accessible and something I actively sought out. My brain was starting to interrupt my binges of the Office to just nudge me off my bed onto the mat and to open a guided meditation video instead. It changed my thinking from just plain stress to “what can I do to make this time serve me better?”
My ability to think positively has been a great asset over the last month as my job has come to an end and I’m at a loose end but because of yoga and meditation, I’m less resistant to change and I feel more optimistic about the road ahead. I’m open to the experiences life presents me with in the moment and I’m no longer trying to future-proof every aspect of my life. I feel better…I feel balanced.
I had set myself the challenge of doing yoga for 30 days straight and I succeeded. Now it’s onto the full-year challenge, or maybe a 6 month challenge.
Let’s not run before we can walk.