After a couple weeks of volatility and then this historic week in the market - there simply wasn’t time for any extras. Yesterday I took a shower, tied back my hair, put on that lip and went straight to work. Reaching out to clients, reviewing research, making updates - today my throat is raw from so much talking.
I always set my day with my morning yoga practice but yesterday I had to press it down into a single moment of prayer and hummed my little chants on the way to the office. After I finished up (there is always more to do) I headed home where all my instincts said to curl up with Olive under a blanket and turn out the lights or watch show after show until I went numb. Instead, I pulled out that youtube playlist I made (you can access it here) with led classes. There is one of my teacher Sharath Jois leading a class in Russia. I rolled out my mat and hit “play”. I am instantly transported to Mysore, India.
Maybe it looks mentally and physically easy. It isn’t. When I started twenty years ago, I could not touch my toes or hold even the top of a push up position. I can remember my arms trembling and then collapsing beneath me. I have a touch of asthma that made any kind of physical exertion a challenge. Add in a sprinkle of scoliosis and years of PE teachers yelling that I was weak and how I “throw like a girl”. Each pose has taken years to become accessible. Going from 5 minutes a day to anything beyond that is a testament to how well this works for me.
And mentally? Well- at first my mind is replaying every story of the day and always through the voice of the very judgmental and evil imaginary overlord in my head. Then comes the pulls of the all the senses - listen to that, what is that in the corner?, this itches, my hair is in my face, etc. And my mind having to swat away each thought and focus on my breath, pose, gaze, my teacher’s voice steadily counting one, two, three.
I can feel all the inflammation and stress bloating from the day. The smoothie I try not to expel. I can feel all the reasons to stop the yoga and do something else. And then it shifts. I suddenly realize that my thoughts have stopped. I am just here. Inhaling, exhaling, lift up, jump back. Inside of myself, outside of myself. Residual panic and anxiety from others is now removed. The impossible has happened - I feel centered and grounded.
My background is not in finance. It is in yoga. I used to try to hide that fact. I was scared people would think I wasn’t good enough. This wasn’t only in my mind. People told me. With time and perspective I now understand a bit more how it all comes together. How it makes perfect sense and how an Ashtanga Yoga practice can help to prepare you mentally for anything. I remember my interview. I remember saying something about how obviously I don’t have a background in finance but that knowledge can be learned and I can learn. The real question was that when you are stuck in an elevator who do you want with you? I have a ton of stories from India, I know how to sit with uncomfortable situations, and I know how to keep showing up each day no matter what. They hired me.
My point is that we all need to develop skills to cope with life, keep healthy, help the world. Skills can be learned.
My thoughts and prayers go out to anyone suffering as a result of the current state of the planet. I’d like to recognize the local business YogaZo for their recent initiative- cancel to keep safe but also continue to pay staff and offer help to anyone in need. This is the kind of thinking we need more of right now.
I am reminded of something Sharath once said to a student years ago. They said they had so much energy - what should they do for an afternoon practice? His response was that if you have extra energy (even after your morning yoga asana practice) you should volunteer and take care of others.