For most, work and stress go hand in hand. Stress itself is not bad. Stress in extreme doses on a consistent basis is when the problems begin. And since stress is commonly directly tied to our work, we compensate by taking care of ourselves less and tell ourselves to just push through. Resulting in a life set on the constant setting of survival mode. A life that isn’t much fun to live.
As I mentioned before, stress itself is not bad. What we need is stress in a balanced form for our lives. This balanced form manifests differently for each of us. This should be no surprise since we are all unique individuals with our own unique needs.
It is our individuality that makes corporate wellness programs difficult to implement because one size will never fit all when it comes to what we each need. Regardless, there is still a strong common need to address the unhealthy levels of stress many are experiencing regularly. Our culture has become reliant on Yang solutions.
Yang, which is commonly shown with it’s Yin companion in symbolic format, is associated with the day, heat and action. Many of us live daily with our lives comprised of Yang, running errands, making dinner, work demands, pretty much the majority of our daily routines are forms of Yang stress. Then in an attempt to combat these high levels of stress, we compound it further by utilizing additional Yang stresses. These are things like working out, watching TV, indulging in food or beverages. Whether it is physical stress, overstimulation or overworking/numbing the liver – these activities are demanding a great deal from ourselves.
Therefore, I propose establishing balance by utilizing Yang’s great compliment, Yin. Here are five of my favorite methods for utilizing Yin to establish balance in my life.
Sleep is the number one way that the body rejuvenates itself. I always give myself permission to rest when my body is asking for it. This proves to be a challenge for us when we have a long list of to-dos or deadlines. This is where it is key to have a daily self-management strategy in place. Know exactly what MUST be completed that day, not what would be nice but what is an absolute MUST. Being real about the MUSTs and the “would be nice” tasks empowers you to make decisions when your body is asking for you to stop for the day.
It is amazing to me how many individuals do not take the time to learn the skill set of breath. When we are not breathing effectively our body is not getting the oxygen it needs to function effectively. Of course, this was a skill I took for granted for many years because it came as part of vocal training back in the days when I was chasing the dream of being a pop star. But I digress if you are new to the world of breath work. My recommendation as a starting point is abdominal breathing. This is a simple breath where you focus on filling your belly on the inhale and emptying it on the exhale. As you gain comfort with this breath begin focusing on slowing and extending your inhale and exhale.
I never ever imagined that I would be a Yogi. Back in the days when I was a semi-regular at the Crossfit gym, I was convinced to try a Power Flow class and strongly disliked it. At the same time, my body was physically being destroyed. I was on some crazy weight loss journey where I would physically kill myself at the gym multiple times a week with not enough recovery in between. It was in this time of physical that I was convinced to try a Slow Flow class for it’s added benefits for muscle recovery. It was in this class that I realized the parts of my body that I was neglecting. Which happened to be the exact parts that needed attention for my body to recover. Yin Yoga is one step further it is a beautiful slow flow practice done predominantly on the floor. Utilizing props you are able to hold poses to stretch the fascia surrounding muscle groups for 2-7 minutes, deepening the stretch and maximizing the benefits.
Qigong has many forms, ranging from a style of martial arts to the gentle rhythmic movements often commonly associated with the practice. The form I am recommended is the slow gentle rhythmic movements that are meant for purging, tonifying and regulating your personal energy. It is our personal energy that plays a key role in our ability to show in the world and do what we want to do. Qigong for me has translated into the ultimate self-care practice and it is slowly healing decades of self-sabotage.
Finally, hit the silence button and listen to the world around you as it unfolds. It is when we embrace the silence that we are able to not only hear others but hear ourselves. Sometimes the answers we are seeking are within, but we can’t hear them because we won’t stop talking and listen. Moments of silence are not only beautiful but powerful. Seek them out actively and embrace them when you randomly stumble upon them.
There are so many other ways to bring Yin into your life, these are only my current top five. In addition, my descriptions only scratch the surface of the powerful potential of each of these methods.
Go ahead, give one a whirl, we offer Qigong and Yin Yoga classes at Leadership Arts Associates on a weekly basis. I am so passionate about adding a little bit of Yin in your life – that these classes are free. I challenge you to find some balance by incorporating Yin and see what happens.