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Yoga: The Answer to Everything

I'm going to shoot straight with you: my wonderful assistant just quit last week and I'm overwhelmed. I'd love to describe how my summer vacation is off to a wonderful start, how my meditation has never been better, how patient I am with my kids... but the honest truth is that I'm having a really hard time. Her last day was 10 days ago. I'm trying to write a book. I'm trying to be on vacation, to give my adrenals a rest. I'm trying to plan carefully my next move with my integrative medical practice. But I checked my work inbox yesterday and I've got 182 emails stacked up since she left. I feel stressed. My cortisol, the main stress hormone, is high - I can feel it. It's uncomfortable. It gives me a wired, anxious feeling. It's unsettling. I want to be grounded, energized, present, but really I'm trying to figure out: What Next? Should I hire another assistant? Should I be more virtual in my practice? What can I automate? How can I consciously set and maintain clear boundaries so that I'm not overwhelmed by patient emails, phone calls and the like? How can I deliver my gift, my Great Purpose, which I believe is guiding women toward juicier vitality, and minimize the busyness that doesn't suit me - the responsibilities that come with prescriptions, the frantic phone calls, the emails with 7 bullet items. Fortunately, I know from 20+ years of managing overwhelm that one thing always helps: YOGA. A friend texted me last night to go to class this morning, and I realized, "Ah, that is exactly what I need." Hard class. Puddles of sweat. My shoulders felt crunchy and geriatric from months of a more yin-style home practice. My hips were tight. But just when I started to spin into my "WHAT-SHOULD-I-DO-WITH-MY-MEDICAL-PRACTICE?" during class, the teacher said just the right thing: "Asana Jail. It's when you come into your asana and stop breathing." Right. Keep breathing. Stay in the Parasympathetic Tone; that is, rest and digest, rather than spiralling into Sympathetic Tone, a.k.a. fight or flight. Break this process down into asanas. Modules. Module 1 = Step up my virtual assistant help so I have more freedom from the old narrative. The old narrative is my previous way of practicing medicine, which no longer serves me. Find the eye in the storm. Module 2 = Dream about what I most want. Paint the picture. Don't worry about "the how" - linger in "the what." Module 3 = Add some reflection. Where do I feel restricted today? What is the impact? Who has restricted me today? Why? How did I let myself feel restricted today? Small changes. Big impact. Yoga helps everything. Stay out of asana jail. Right.


Anna Guest-Jelley replied on Dec 29, 2015

Right there with you. I always find it amazing how easy it is for me to forget how incredible yoga is for times of overwhelm despite over a decade of practice, but eventually I remember, hop on my mat and find some stillness in my body. From that place of stillness, I usually find a way through — or at least more clarity with which to look at what’s going on. Thanks for the lovely post!

Sara Gottfried MD replied on Dec 29, 2015

Exhaling right there with you, Jude!

Lisa replied on Dec 29, 2015

Yes, Yes…can so relate to the growing pains of transition, of work/purpose bearing more reach and weight in the world…of needing the in breath in equal measure to the out breath. Beautiful reminders.

Jude replied on Dec 29, 2015

Amazing how the simplest things are often so easy to forget…like breathing! Worrying makes me hold my breath, but if I “Don’t worry about the HOW” and “Linger in the WHAT,” I can always exhale a big sigh of relief. Thanks for the reminder.

shayla replied on Dec 29, 2015

Sara, i love this post. it’s a great reminder. i especially needed to hear (read) the parts about asana jail and about, “don’t worry about the ‘how,’ linger in the ‘what’.” you’re always full of good advice!

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