August 1, 2010

Take Me to My Happy Place…

Yoga Survival Strategies.

This is the biggest mistake I could think would save me. I wanted to give up the idea that I had any control. Shake things up. To be saved by chaos. To see if I could cope, I wanted to force myself to grow again. To explode my comfort zone.

~ Chuck Palahniuk

Yoga is a mind-body altering practice that exposes us to stress, and teaches us practical ways to deal with it. It also points out our defaults, our go-to’s when the going gets tough.

Holding space for people to confront their boundaries is an essential part of being a first-rate yoga teacher. A noteworthy teacher will challenge student’s limits because outside of the comfort zone is where we transform. This is also the place where our coping strategies kick in.

For only the man who goes to meet his fate resolutely is equipped to deal with it.

~ I Ching

Some common ways we handle stress are to:

•    Compartmentalize: File conflicting thoughts into separated compartments.
•    Compensate: Over-do one thing to atone for another weakness.
•    Displace: Shift intended action to a safer target.
•    Idealize: Play up the good, play down the suck.
•    Identify: Imitate people we admire.
•    Intellectualize: Focus on facts and logic in order to detach.
•    Perform rituals: Buy time to sort yourself out.
•    Sublimate: Channel psychic energy into permissible activities.
•    Substitute: Trade-up negative for positive.
•    Undo: Take action to psychologically ‘undo’ vice.

Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already.

~ C.S. Lewis

Some of the myriad ways we survive on the yoga mat when we’re at the edge are to:

•    Amp up the breath.
•    Modify a pose.
•    Fidget.
•    Do the stop-&-stare aka “curl-up-and-die”.
•    Take a drink of water.
•    Push it through.
•    Force it through.
•    Fake-it-till-you-make-it.
•    Run to the bathroom.
•    Think mean thoughts about the teacher.
•    Think about a person you want to help and keep going for them.
•    Count breaths.
•    Recite a mantra.
•    Check out the cute girl/guy in front of you…to derive strength from their beauty!

As a student and teacher of yoga, I’ve seen and done them all.

What are your coping mechanisms? What do they tell you about yourself?


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Michelle Myhre  |  Contribution: 400