This week's installment of the Yoga Living Project comes from Jessica Diosdado, Cambio YTT graduate and subsitute teacher gallore. Read this heartfelt piece is below to gain an opportunity to check in, empower yourself and grow with intention.
Catch Jessica on the schedule as she subs for other Cambio teachers, and offers one of a kind workshops.
Becoming the Eye of the Storm
For the physically fit and emotionally unwell.
by Jessica Diosdado
The inspiration or literal life-giving breath that has led me here does not merely consist of loved ones and teachers, but of every environment I’ve dedicated time to throughout the years. The culmination of previous relationships, places of employment, academia, and so forth have paved this path to experiencing more freedom in my skin than I ever thought possible. To say I’ve had opportunities to learn is an understatement and to say I seized every one of them would be absurd. The truth is, all this training has only helped me discover how limited my perspective actually is. I will have considered this writing successful if it sparks even the smallest bit of collective enthusiasm to cultivate connection and balance of mind, body and spirit. The purpose of this article is to emphasize, from a scientific, yogic and personal perspective the role that being attuned with one’s mental health can play on the journey to feeling connected and whole.
First, from a scientific standpoint, according to the Stanford Medicine Research Team, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. In other words, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.” Although this is what the research shows, as many of us have come to experience, confidence in social or group settings is not always the easiest to access. The following question might be a good point of reflection: How can we connect authentically with others if we aren’t making time to connect with ourselves?
Now, through the lens of Yoga, the outermost or physical layer of being AKA Annamaya Kosha, “is what we eat, breathe, drink, see, smell, taste, hear, and feel. It is the visible part of our Self and therefore, we mostly identify ourselves
with it. It the most vulnerable of the five sheaths and it suffers from our preconceived notions of body image, body type, and strict ideologies of health/ sickness. It is most susceptible to external influences, weather, aging, lifestyle, daily routine, eating habits, etc. (Arora)” Perhaps it’s safe to say that in this particular layer is where most of us tend to dwell, and, let’s be real, societal norms tend to perpetuate the notion that this layer is all that exists or matters. By finding time to connect to our deeper layers, according to Harvard Health, we can “increase neuro-plasticity, find relief from symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression and more.”
Take a moment to check-in with yourself. Ask yourself how you are and notice how long it takes for something deeper than physical to show up. This could be intellectual, energetic, or emotional. Do you feel connected or in tune with each of those different layers of being or does the short exercise bring up confusion/strange sensations/undesirable emotions? It’s okay if the answer is “no.”
In my personal experience, when becoming physically fit became a priority in my early twenties, I never made the connection that mental hygiene was such a vital part of living well. Setting PR’s at the gym and getting praise from coaches, hearing positive feedback from loved ones but never being at a capacity to fully
receive that love and admiration, I certainly didn’t know what being attuned felt like. Getting wound up with upholding the image of “health,” I became well acquainted with pretending I was better off than I actually was. Little did I know, that was causing a ton of unnecessary suffering, not just for me but for those around me as well. Instead of being the eye or the calmest part of the storm, I was easily tossed around by the world around me. Flash forward to my early thirties and I’ve learned to experience the contentment and/or consequences of my actions versus living to please others and having to work through the proceeding guilt and resentment for not honoring my truth initially. Despite the flux of the world around me, I can approach things with more clarity and less judgement or expectation.
To me, life is an endless opportunity to navigate the different layers of our existence and passions and maybe, if we are open to it, sharing with the collective, inviting communal healing and collaborative efforts that essentially lead to our future generations having a solid foundation of love and resilience. The more I practice, the more I see that this is what Yoga is all about, finding the connection within me so that eventually the me turns to WE.
If I could offer you the gift of encouragement today, it would be this: Take care of yourself. Your whole self. It might be different today than it was yesterday and the same goes for tomorrow. A little bit each day adds up, so even on the “good” days, practice. When it gets heavy, put it down. Set it aside, then revisit the topic when you’re ready. Seek support when you need it. Be well, friends.
1. Arora, Indu. “Yoga, Ancient Heritage-Tomorrow’s Vision” 2019
2. Harvard Health. “Yoga for Better Mental Health.”