“Won’t someone tell me ’cause life must be somewhere to be found. Instead of concrete jungle where the living is harder.Concrete jungle. Man you got to do your best. No chains around my feet.But I’m not free.I know I am bound here in captivity.” – Bob Marley, Concrete Jungle
There is something magical about Christmas Day. I am not talking about the food, or the presents, the religion, or the people although all of those things have a beauty unto themselves. I am talking about my favourite part: getting up on Christmas morning and opening the front door and listening to…….silence. For one moment, my house, my neighborhood, my city, is almost…..still. The eternal white noise of busyness; people driving, planes flying, bodies and energy just moving…it all stops. Day to day we don’t notice it. We get swept up in the machine that produces, sometimes with no other reason than to produce. We are always in a hurry to go, and then go faster. From the moment we wake up to the moment we collapse into bed, there is always a push to move onto the next thing. I like Christmas because, for our Western World, it is the one day we push the pause button, and breathe. However, the machine is getting stronger, it is pushing back and even that one day is no longer fully stopped. It began with movie theatres and restaurants, now it is creeping ever closer to being another day of production.
The problem is, we aren’t designed to live like this. In order to maintain the pace of our lifestyle, our bodies must constantly be in fight or flight response. Our sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the fight or flight response, causes accelerated heart rate, widens bronchial passages for more oxygen, decreases motility of the large intestine, increases perspiration, and raises your blood pressure. It is a great reaction if you are being chased by a lion or a bear, but the body isn’t meant to sustain it for a long period of time, let alone a lifetime. The balancing part of our autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our feed and breed, and rest and digest. The parasympathetic system is responsible for activities that occur when the body is at rest, especially after eating, including sexual arousal, salivation, lacrimation (tears), urination, digestion and defecation. When we don’t allow our body to enter the parasympathetic system, we begin to struggle with many of these functions. We also forget how to consciously relax the body. Being “on” 24/7, sometimes the only time the body is able to relax is when it is sleeping, and even then, insomnia is on the rise.
So what do we do? Christmas comes but once a year and changing the pattern of society is a daunting process. In situations like these, I take a page from the wise Sufi Poet, Rumi, who said “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” We can begin to re-learn how to relax. One of my personal favourite ways of relaxing is Restorative Yoga. Just like the name suggests, it helps your body come out of that fight or flight response and guides it into rest and digest, for conscious relaxation. Because it is one of my personal practices, it is also one of my favourite classes to teach. I know the benefits I get, so to be able to share that with others brings me great joy.
In my Restorative workshops, we incorporate all the senses, to help you into that ultimate bliss: fresh flowers for the delicious scents, soft candlelight that is gentle and comforting for the eyes, warm blankets and cozy props to fully support you in the postures, so your body can relax and let go. I also work in partnership with two amazing musicians that incorporate soft gentle melodies, that take you away from the stress of the day and allow the mind to relax fully.
When we learn to consciously relax, we can begin to see the differences in our lives and in our being. You will find that you have more energy and that things may function better when you aren’t exhausted. When we learn anything, with practice it becomes easier. Sometimes, we fall back into our patterns or get caught in the machine again. When these things happens, I hear my teacher Mona in my head “ Right Foot, Left Foot, Inhale, Exhale”…..one breath at a time.
You can join Amber for Candlelight, Music, and Restorative Yoga on Friday November 17th, Friday December 1st, and Friday December 15th from 7pm-8:30pm. To register visit….and enter workshop link.