Quest Fitness 2022 Blog

How to slow down in a fast paced world

How to Slow Down in a Fast-Paced World

By Heather Evans

We live in a culture that values speed and productivity. Whether it is pressure from work, family, society or friends we are constantly being told that we should do more. It is very common that people feel like they are wasting time when not being 'productive.' To be productive means to be producing something; goods, content or other commodities. This is a necessary part of life, but it is not the only part and there are so many things that are more important than how productive you are.

Time is the one constant that we all have the same amount of. There are 168 hours in a week. Each day if we sleep for 8 hours, and work for 8 hours, that leaves us 8 hours to exercise, build relationships, have fun, pursue hobbies, travel, eat, relax, etc. The goal for most of us is to be as productive in each of those three facets as humanly possible, but what is the point if you aren't enjoying your life? As humans we are habitual, and often respond well to routine, but there is no single, perfect routine that will be fulfilling forever.

I am going to jump in another direction here and explain how yoga and life can be so similar. Life is about finding your passions, being a part of something greater than yourself, and finding happiness. But we often are misled into believing life is about your financial worth, your standing in society, your intelligence, etc. In a similar way, yoga is often misinterpreted. The poses you see depicted, or the flow you are doing during class, that is just the surface of what yoga is, the part that is visible to anyone. For the remainder of this article, I am going to describe the 8 limbs of yoga, and how we can take this practice into daily life; the way yoga was intended to be utilized!

•Yama - Sanskrit word for restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows. A Yama is an example of a practice that yogis follow throughout daily life. This is the first clue that yoga is about much more than what happens on the mat. There are five Yamas; Ahisma (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (right use of energy), and Aparigraha (non-greed/non-hoarding).

•Niyama - Sanskrit word for positive duties or observances. Niyama refers to internal duties to practice. There are also five Niyamas; Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (burning of desire/discipline), Svadhyaya (self-study/self-reflection) and Isvarapranidaha (surrender to a higher power). These are typically practiced by the yogis on a dedicated path for years, and it is intended to build character.

•Asana - Sanskrit word for postures. This is the physical practice of yoga that we are most familiar with. You may start thinking about warrior pose, or head stands, but asana means seat: the goal is to be able to hold a single posture comfortably and motionless, and this starts with a simple seat. As you master staying still in simple postures, then challenge yourself to find comfort and stillness in a more challenging pose.

•Pranayama - Sanskrit word for breathing techniques. Pranayama translates to breath control, or breath restraint. There are so many variations of breathing techniques, but they are all aiming to alter the mind in many ways. Forcing an irregular breath pattern may make you feel uncomfortable, but the more you practice it the easier it will be to find calm when you are stressed or pushed outside your comfort zone.

•Pratyahara - Sanskrit word for sense withdrawal. This phrase is often misinterpreted to mean switching the senses off, but really you are trying to draw inward and focus on what you are feeling. As you improve on this practice, you should be able to sit and concentrate on your own body and mind even in a noisy environment, because you can tune out your surroundings, and focus on what is going on within.

•Dharana - Sanskrit word for Focused Concentration. Dharana is closely linked to limbs 5, and 6. To focus on something specific, we must be able to withdraw our senses from the external world. Along with focused breath work, this state gets people to where they believe they are meditating.

•Dhyana - Sanskrit word for meditative absorption. This is when we are finally meditating, the difference between this and Dharana is we have truly put into practice the stillness, focus, and breath. The actual practice of meditation is not something you can actively "do", rather it happens because of everything else. Basically, if you are really meditating you will not have the thought, "oh I am meditating!" Because if you really are, you are not having thoughts about the self, you are immersed in a different layer of consciousness.

•Samadhi - Sanskrit word for bliss or enlightenment. This is the final step of a Yogi's journey. Enlightenment doesn't result in levitating, or a state of perfection, instead it is about realizing the very life that lies in front of us. Enlightenment is the ability to see all things from an equal perspective, without our experiences being clouded with likes and dislikes, and without a need to judge or become attached to anything.

That said, I wish each of you will try to fill your lives with these internal practices. I believe that peace within allows growth all around you. Go within every day and find your inner strength; that way nothing and nobody can dim your light.

Thanks for reading!

Heather Evans

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