Dropping Worry on and off the Mat

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Prior to yoga, if I had a conflict or problem in my life, I would let it consume me. I’ve learned through yoga to let all the negative go and move on with life.
~ John Horton

I’ve always been into physical fitness. I was a runner for many years until it was starting to hurt my hips and knees. Cycling became my next sport for cardio and I’ve always lifted weights to keep my strength up. I was first introduced to yoga in my gym and it showed me the benefits of stretching and performing various moves to increase my core strength.

I’ve been practicing yoga for about 8 years now, trying different studios and types of practice but not finding any studio or type of yoga to keep me coming back. I practiced occasionally at best.

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Mind Body Flow Yoga was different from other studios, not only in practice but also in a very down to earth and comfortable setting. I was introduced to MBFY by my friend, Sheri, who wound up becoming an instructor at the studio. She knows me well and mentioned many times to come and check it out, but it took me a while to take the plunge. I never felt very comfortable in studio settings because let’s face it, I’m of few men or sometimes the only man in a room full of women and sometimes I would feel as if I was intruding. Sheri said to me one day as I expressed this, that most women here could only wish that the men in their life would practice with them. I took that to heart and never felt uncomfortable again.

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My life has seen many changes in the last few years. I got divorced and found myself starting fresh and really learning to know myself, my likes, my dislikes, and what I wanted in life. That took me through a journey. Practicing yoga regularly taught me to focus on the present and let go of my past. It helped me be more focused and through regular training, it has helped me achieve strength and discipline in my body and mind that I never thought was possible. 

Prior to yoga, if I had a conflict or problem in my life, I would let it consume me. I’ve learned through yoga to let all the negative go and move on with life. No more looking back. I used to worry all the time and carry all my worry about the things I could not control in my life. For example, I was part owner of a few pharmacies years ago and suddenly the majority partners decided to sell off the business. I had such a sense of loss. My life was changing and I had no control over it. It devastated me, losing a job I loved – it was as if I had a death in my family. I lost weight, I was depressed and I had no support to speak of. It was months before I was working again and looking back, I could have embraced that change so much differently. Instead of worrying, I could have used that time to reflect on the positive aspects of change. I could have done something I always wanted to do like ride my motorcycle across the country and see the many sites I have only dreamed of. I was only worried about one thing though – get another job. I had enough money to sustain my family for many years and being a pharmacist, I would have many opportunities for employment but my work ethic and need to be a provider prevailed.

I landed a job a few months later as a compounding pharmacist. I went to many classes to enhance the skills I learned 30 years ago in Pharmacy school and went on to a job that was much more fulfilling and enjoyable than my previous career. I’m not saying that my job isn’t stressful but I’m handling that stress so much better. I don’t take the stresses of work home and when I do feel it, I have learned to breathe. My Apple Watch reminds me too – lol.

Through practicing yoga and listening to the instructors read various passages, I have learned that my stressors are not unique to me. Everyone has worry and sudden changes in their lives sometimes. It’s how you process it and manage it. Yoga helps with this. A few deep breaths on my mat in child’s pose is usually all I need to expel the negativity that may be lingering in my mind. It’s something that needs to be done regularly though. 

I have to say yoga has helped me greatly during this pandemic because again, I had to deal with change. I am currently working from home. How, you ask? Very carefully, but I’m not built to be sitting in front of a laptop all day. I’m used to being a friendly pharmacist talking to my customers and helping them face to face. However, I can’t get stressed over the change. I’m fortunate to be working and fortunate to still be able to answer questions over the phone. Believe me, I need my yoga almost every day after work and am very grateful for MBFY’s virtual classes. 

As far as strength and flexibility, it has been remarkable. A funny side note – I took a class with my 23-year-old son and he was watching me fail miserably at trying headstand. After class, on the way home, he said Dad, “Why are you trying to do a headstand? You’re too old for that”. I may be 55 years old, but I was not going to be told I was too old for anything. Two weeks later, with the help of my friendly instructor, I successfully did a perfect one. I sent my son a few pics and he said, ”Wow, impressive. I could never do that.” I told him that he can do anything he puts his mind to. I’ve been trying to do a forearm stand during this quarantine and I’m getting very close. I know I’ll get it once I have an instructor or assistant by my side.

I truly believe yoga has helped me be a better man, father, brother, and friend and will continue my journey with my practice even when I do get old, and hopefully ride my Harley to the west coast and back.

Tips for Tripod Headstand (Sirsasana II)

  • Walk the feet in to shorten the stance of your Downward Facing Dog.
  • Pick up the right leg bending the knee and place it lightly on the right triceps.
  • Bend and place the left knee on the left triceps as well , so you’re in a tripod.
  • Instead of letting the weight bear down on your arms, keep the triceps engaged by pushing them into the knees to resist the weight. This will help you keep the shoulders lifted as well.
  • Take a deep breath in and lift your knees off the triceps. Lift the hips up as the thighs draw tight to the chest. Stay as compact as possible to help your center of gravity and core engage.
  • Every few breaths remind yourself to lift the shoulders and keep the elbows in. Once the hips stack over the shoulders, the weight of the legs will lessen and the core will engage. Squeeze in through the lower belly to lightly pull the knees off the arms into a pike position in your chest.
  • Keep the inner heels and big toes touching as the legs draw up towards the ceiling. Feet are flexed powerfully.
  • Hug the inner thighs to the midline, expand through the backs of the kneecaps and spread the toes.
  • From here you can reverse the process back into Child’s Pose or keep the feet flexed, keep the body strong like plank and float into Chaturanga.

Benefits

  • Calms the mind and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Strengthens the arms, legs, and spine
  • Stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands
  • Strengthens the lungs
  • Tones the abdominal muscles
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
  • Therapeutic for asthma, infertility and insomnia

Caution

  • Use caution with this pose if you have a back injury, headache, heart condition, high blood pressure, menstruation, neck injury, or low blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy: If you are experienced with this pose, you can continue to practice it throughout your pregnancy. However, don’t take up the practice of this pose after you become pregnant.
  • Tripod headstand (Sirsasana II) is considered to be an intermediate to advanced pose. Do not practice this pose without prior experience or unless you have the supervision of an experienced
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2 thoughts on “Dropping Worry on and off the Mat”

  1. Love this article and Yes, John ,I do wish my husband would come to yoga with me but he is flat out uninterested. His loss to be sure.

  2. A remarkable story from a remarkable man. Today, so many people pity themselves or turn to addictions with a negative effect. John’s story is truthful and motivating. He inspires me to tackle issues with no excuses,( I’m dusting off my yoga mat and looking to join an on-line class)!

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