Some Off the Mat Yoga Practices to Help in Irma's Aftermath

My dear ones,

Have you noticed the inner storm that has arrived after the outer one receded?

I am writing you on our fifth day without power. I’ve felt so many emotions since Irma passed through. Relief, fear, frustration and great gratitude that it wasn’t worse than it is, at least for us. And sadness for those who are gravely affected.

I want to share a yogic perspective on where we may be now that storm has passed.

No matter where we are, however we weathered this storm, we all experienced something traumatic.The emotional highs and lows of fearing for our lives, loved ones, loss of property and pets takes a toll.

There is a reaction in our bodies to this type of experience. Adrenalin shoots up to an all time high as we get ready to fight or flee. Afterwards, there’s a kind of neurochemical withdrawal from the threat.

Our body can continue to be amped up even when there’s no wild boar or wild Irma to fight. Our nervous system is on high alert and we may feel exhausted and overwhelmed, depressed and down.

We are thrown off our routines. There’s often a feeling of being out of sorts. Off kilter. We may have started to clean our yards or sort our belongings. In addition to tending our homes and gardens our minds, bodies and spirits need care too. As do our friends and family, strangers and neighbors. 

The yogic foundations of the eightfold path give us the practice of the Niyamas. In addition to practicing the physical practice of yoga asana, these inner codes give us ample support for these trying times.

The Niyamas of Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, Isvara Pranidhana are here for us if and when we can practice them!

Take some time and space to use the niyamas of yoga to ground yourself.

  1. Practice internal Saucha, or cleanliness by releasing the tension. While we are also cleaning the debris, this is a perfect time to do some inner releasing as well. If there's something to clear from your life - let it go! Dance, sing or shake it out!
  2. Practice the cultivation of joy known as Santosha. Do something kind for yourself. Take your time. Allow yourself to regroup. Be gentle with yourself. Lay on the ground in shavasana. Maybe even fall asleep! Goodness knows you probably need the nap!
  3. Apply the right effort of Tapas. Let go of the quest for wifi or power - for a while. Take the brain break as an opportunity to focus on what’s right in front of you. Be mindful of what you focus on. Remember to be grateful for what we have and mindful of those who lost much more than we have. Use that extra energy of tapas if you have it to volunteer, assist those in need, help a neighbor or a friend. Simple, practical, useful things like delivering ice or groceries can do wonders.
  4. Practice Svadhyaya by asking yourself what you need. Are you hungry? Tired? Thirsty? Sad? And then again extend the self-care beyond yourself. Reach out to family, friends and even pets. Ask what folks need. Give them an extra cuddle and the kind of care that only you can give.
  5. The final Niyama, Ishvara Pranidhana connects us to something greater. Take heart in the clouds, sky and fresh breeze. Feel your connection to everyone else as you breathe deeply, just as all living beings do. Remember to be grateful for all you have and all you are.

I hope that you find some peace in these practices.

Susanna Barkataki is Founder & Director of Education at Ignite | Yoga and Wellness Institute in Orlando, FL. www.Ignitebewell.com | @ignitebewell

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