In a 2013 Ted Talk, writer Andrew Solomon states: The opposite of depression isn't happiness, it's vitality.
I found that idea to be particularly insightful because aside from being unrealistic, living in a perpetual state of happiness seems rather one dimensional. Vitality, on the other hand, is a far more inspiring and attainable goal.
If your ears and eyes are open and sensitive to recent events around the world, and you are sincere enough to acknowledge how you actually feel, you might notice that aside from emotionally, perhaps physically you feel a bit heavier, duller even, as you practice yoga.
I believe that the key to a well adjusted practice is in large part simply a willingness to adjust how one practices so that the effect is a greater sense of vitality. Of course, if your current mode of practice does that for you there is no need to change it. However, many dedicated practitioners stick to the same mode of practice in order to progress, and sticking to a practice will do that, yet over time it might not stimulate you enough to keep you from feeling like you are drowning in the collective anxiety.
Changing how or what you practice at least a couple days a week can be the cold shower that startles your senses enough to feel more alive, and can even improve how you perform your usual routine.
Doing what doesn't come naturally is a good place to start.
Hold postures longer, and maybe rest more between them. If you normally string them together at a clip, or do some straight up workout yoga if you normally practice in a more mellow manner.
As a full time teacher, getting off the mat and exercising outside, even in the cold here in New York, is in more ways than one a breath of fresh air.
I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member, so I don't have this problem, but I know that in some practice circles, stepping outside of the method is considered a detour from the spiritual path. I don't know about you but I bring my spirit with me wherever I go, and I don't need a prescribed ritual to summon it. Then again, nobody has to know that you do jumping jacks and pushups in your living room now and again.
Maybe this doesn't resonate with you. If your yoga practices are few and far between, or if you’ve never stuck with a practice long enough to truly adapt to it, maybe for my next post I'll write about the magic of repetition and ritual, which I also believe has immense healing and life affirming power. Contradiction? I think not. Variety may be the spice of life, but the real sustenance is in the staple ingredients.
To read more of David Regelin's work or for a list of festivals, conferences, retreats, and studios in and outside the U.S where he will be teaching, including his 30 Hour Adjustments and Centering Skills intensive in NYC (March 23-26) go to his website here.