We are designed to survive. Thanks, autonomic nervous system! But sometimes, a wire trips. We get stuck in the *on* position. We can't power down. The only-use-in-emergency functions designed to keep us safe become infused with our identity -- hypervigilance, worst-case-scenario-ing, energy conservation, emotional suppression, digestive mayhem, protection stance, etc. And these functions integrate so well into our culture that we don't even realize we've normalized the abnormal.
Mindful yoga (and sometimes even mindless yoga) is one way that we humans practice powering down. Deep breathing, body engagement and present-moment-focus (within trauma-responsive, safe space) help flip the switch into *off* mode. With guidance and practice over time, that trigger switch becomes less sensitive. And flips itself back into neutral more easily.
Let's revisit that parenthetical again: trauma-responsive, safe space. Maybe that deserves more than being in parentheses. Because just as yoga spaces can heal, yoga spaces can also re-traumatize, re-trigger and re-inforce all the crap we're trying to heal. So, be discerning when you surrender your body, heart and nervous system to the words and hands of a teacher. Remember that NO is a complete sentence. Practice it in the mirror. And teachers, remember the responsibility that comes with any position of power.
Here are some ways to practice all of it. <3 Alex