September 8, 2015

Why Yoga is Like Brushing Our Teeth.

outdoor yoga classs medtate

This morning I felt sad. I felt curled in upon myself. For no particular reason.

Except there is a reason.

It happens to all of us.

It’s called Life.

It’s the undeniable plaque that builds on our teeth and in between our gums every time we eat and drink.

Life is all the little things—like that person who cut you off in traffic, or burning your toast, or an insurmountable email inbox. It’s seeing bad things happen to other people, sacrificing yourself for things that resemble love, or all the moments we forget to breathe deeply.

Life is every time your heart speeds up, your breath contracts and adrenaline shoots through you. It happens a hundred times a day, but how often do you get to discharge that energy? Maybe one workout a day? I’m being generous here.

Life builds up in our bodies in the form of the stress hormone cortisol, or in the form of free radicals that prevent our body from healing. It builds up in our bodies in the form of a repetitive muscular contraction (like slumping your shoulders to keep from being hurt) that eventually bends our body into something perpetually achey.

This morning I felt sad. I felt curled in upon myself. Because of the build up of life.

So I went to yoga.

I chose one of my favorite teachers. I knew it would be the perfect balance of mindful and challenging. And as I moved my body in sync with my breath, as I reached and stretched to the capacity of my length, and then a little further, I could feel the plaque of life falling away.

Like a dirty rubber band.

When you stretch it, the stuff caked on it cracks and falls off. The rubber band is inherently more resilient than the stuff stuck to it. Just as you are inherently more resilient than the stuff of life.

I could feel the unfinished things, the many incomplete adrenaline cycles, the undiluted injustices of the world come to completion in my body through the pushing and pulling and breathing and trembling. As my muscles released their held cortisol, I could feel the stuck places unstick, and the guards—oh, the walls and the guards I erect against the angst of the world—I could feel them soften.

And by the end when we closed class with a simple song, our voices fumbling through the unfamiliar lyrics with a sense of unity, I was back.

Back to myself.

Back to the connection with both spirit and community that was always there, unfettered by the stuff of life.

After we brush our teeth it feels so much better. And in comparison with our ancestors, we keep our teeth so much longer.

It works because we brush regularly, not just when someone tells us we have bad breath.

I wonder what would be possible if we practiced cleaning the plaque of life out of our bodies with the same regularity we brush our teeth?

Instead of just going to yoga when you feel stressed, how much clarity, how much more energy might be possible in each day if you had a regular practice?
This is my challenge to my clients, and now to you:

Put a yoga mat by your bed.

Let it be the first thing you step on. Before you look at your phone, before you pee, before you brush your teeth, step onto your mat. Take 5 minutes to do 5 Sun A’s.

Do it for one week. What have you got to lose?

Besides a little life plaque.



A Simple but Powerful Yoga Routine to Relieve Anxiety.


Author: Michelle Lee Weldon

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Seattle Yoga News/ Flickr


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Michelle Lee Weldon