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Wash, Rinse, Repeat - Condition

We all know what to do in order to maintain our health. As with many things in life, this guidance comes in triplicate: 1) eat healthy foods 2) exercise 3) get plenty of rest. This trinity of health is something we can control. We don't have to "hire it out." We control what we eat - unless we are in a hospital, a jail, a sub-par bed and breakfast, or are unable to feed ourselves due to illness or handicap. If you can control what you eat, then you must take responsibility for what goes into your mouth.

Getting plenty of rest is more of a variable - it goes beyond our human physiology and the food pyramid into a more personal realm of what works best for you as an individual. If you've ever taken a mattress quiz to see what type is best for you, then you are familiar with the variables out there regarding firm and soft, spring or foam, rubber or organic cotton. Some of us must have absolute darkness and quiet - others must have a little light glow and white noise. We can control these variables and decide whether or not it's a good idea to take our phone to bed with us. (It's not.)

Exercise. It's a black or white, love or hate relationship. There isn't much gray area here. For the "love it" group, it gets done because that's the way they roll. They crave endorphin-rushed movement like some people crave chocolate. The lackadaisical or "Kapha-esque" group needs motivational help. Lack of interest lacks motivation and there you sit.

If you are anemic, then you lack sufficient levels of iron in your blood with which to carry oxygen to your organs. You have to figure out how to "get it in there" beyond the ferrous sulfate pill that will ultimately constipate you. Constipation will motivate you to find a better way to get the iron in. You have to put forth the effort, the research, the trial-and-error it takes to find forms of exercise that will motivate you and keep you motivated.

One of the great things about yoga is its variability. So many different styles and forms, and you can include more than one in your weekly routine. It takes very little to begin - a floor, a wall, and your phone or laptop. Live instruction is optimal, but during a pandemic - or if your yoga teacher picked up and moved to Canada - you have to think outside of the box. Whether Zooming a live class, playing a recorded one, using an App, or hopping on YouTube, there are so many options of motivational input and you never have to leave your home or yard.

Let's now break out of the "trinity of health" and add an essential fourth element - one which is finally getting the attention it deserves, and the removal of the stigma it has endured for far too long - mental health. For many people, this pandemic has taught us how important it is to take care of our minds. Isolation can be dangerous for the mind. So can economic uncertainty, the death of a loved one, or financial crisis. To condition and to soothe our minds, we reach out to another. We share our pain, our grief and our fears. We listen. We get still. Yoga teaches us that mental peace is the ultimate goal. It is hard in this world to have peace of the mind if you are in physical pain, don't have enough to eat, or endure bouts of insomnia.

So let us begin again tomorrow. Let us begin to approach this peace of mind with the stillness of the body. Sit with yourself each day for a moment or two and be with yourself. Notice your breath. Then notice your thoughts. Say a prayer for a friend. Later in your day, reach out to someone with a phone call or an email. Condition your mind with love. With understanding. With positive thoughts. Control your thoughts, and you control your mind. Therein lies peace.


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