I hope all my American friends, family and readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving day. A day spent with loved ones, a lot of football, great food and relaxation. After American Thanksgiving, the Christmas chaos usually begins here. (Here being Toronto.) The malls are jam-packed, folks are getting their stress on, and don’t let me get started on the parking lot situation. Suddenly, Canadian retailers are marketing in on the Black Friday craze to prevent shoppers from driving south across the border for deals and losing local business. Every commercial outlet and mall, Black Friday signs try to entice buyers. Five years ago or so, most Canadians did not take note of Black Friday, and Boxing Day was our big shopping day, the day after Christmas. I assume folks like having deals before Christmas in order to save on their Christmas gift list.
Where am I going with this? Hold on folks, she’s heading for “rantville,” population one. On my way home from work, I planned to go to the gym. It’s back day and I love back day. Unfortunately, my gym is in a shopping mall. Not the best of locations today. As I entered the parking lot, I immediately knew it was a huge mistake. Cars were bumper to bumper and it took over ten minutes to get close to my gym entrance, which usually takes me under one minute. So I tried various other areas of the mall parking lot, but every turn I made it was utter madness. Cars on top of cars, and people walking with packages up to their eyeballs. At the risk of sounding like Mr. Grinch, it started to irritate me. I became irritated with all the commercialism of the season. I became irritated with myself for not just going home first to park, and then walking over to the gym. Then I spotted two people cursing and arguing over a parking spot. Nasty words spewed from their mouths like venom. Is this the season of love and peace? Is this what we have come to? Parents ( I assume since they were with children) screaming profanity at one another for a parking spot? What kind of message were they sending to their children? I guess those Black Friday deals were more important than setting an example. When I almost ran over a women who just darted in front of my car out of nowhere, that was the final straw. I wanted out of the clutter of cars and people. I wanted out of the cursing and profanity. I just wanted to get home. My Grinchiness was reaching an intense level.
I don’t think I have made it a secret on this blog, that I get anxious. If it was a secret…surprise! I suffer from anxiety and situations like this provoke my anxiety. Although I am still a novice Yogi, it has served me very well thus far. Instead of jumping on the fuming bandwagon, and letting my irritated state of Grinchness get the best of me, I began to breathe, using techniques that Tenille has taught me in her Yoga class. Instead of fretting, I took a proactive approach to calm my mind.
This is what I did:
Breath of Fire:
Sitting up with a straight spine, I commenced rapid breaths through the nose. These breaths should be rapid, like the panting of a dog. I did two sets of the breath of fire for 20 reps, making sure to breath from the diaphragm, inhaling and exhaling solely through the nostrils. The breath of fire calms the central nervous system.
I did not practice the next breathing technique, as I was at the wheel, however, this is a breath I practice at home when feeling anxious. This breathing practice invites positivity when feeling overwhelmed or negative about a situation.
It clears the subconscious of unwanted negative or fearful thoughts. Then the Negative Mind can give you clear signals to protect and to promote you. The posture is one of calmness and humility that lets the Creator, the Unknown, cover and shield you.
Sit straight in an easy cross-legged pose. Make a cup of the two hands with both palms facing up, and the right hand resting on top of the left hand. The fingers will cross over each other. Put this open cup at the level of the heart center. Elbows are relaxed at the sides.
Your eyes are slightly open and looking down toward the hands.
Inhale deeply in a long steady stroke through the nose. Exhale in a focused stream through rounded lips. You will feel the breath go over the hands.
Let any thought or desire that is negative, or persistently distracting come into your mind as you breathe. Breathe the thought and feeling in, and exhale it out with the breath.
11 to 31 minutes
Exhale completely and suspend the breath out as you lock in the navel point. Concentrate on each vertebra of the spine until you can feel it all the way to the base, as stiff as a rod. Then inhale powerfully, exhale completely, and repeat the concentration. Repeat this final breath 3-5 times. Then relax completely.
In all the hustle of the season, let us try to keep it all in perspective. Let us take note of the Who’s down in Whoville, and celebrate the season of love without all the external packaging, fighting over parking spots and getting carried away in the chaos. Take care of yourself.
Disclaimer: I am not a teacher or instructor of Kundalini Yoga, but I am a student and these are techniques that I find helpful. If unsure about any of the breathing techniques above, please seek the help of a certified Kundalini instructor/master.
Resource: For additional information about managing stress, anxiety or classes in Kundalini Yoga contact Tenille Chen-Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org