As a way to cope with the daily stresses of veterinary school, I began taking hot yoga and hot pilates classes in the evenings with some of my friends. I have found these classes to be extremely physically challenging but so beneficial for my mental health. I challenge my brain each day in the classroom but I rarely give it a chance to relax.
Yoga and pilates offer me the opportunity to push my body to its limits and open my mind to simply become one with my breath. I don’t have to think about anything for an hour other than inhaling and exhaling, and that is a liberating feeling. For that one hour, my breath is all that matters, and the stresses of the world beyond the yoga studio are able to fade away.
Following one of our classes, as we laid on our backs relaxing and absorbing all the work we had accomplished, my yoga instructor perfectly captured the challenges we face in our society today. He acknowledged that we exist in a world that is so incredibly focused on immediacy. We never let ourselves take a moment to just “be.” We rarely allow ourselves to quiet our minds. We feel that if our minds are quiet, maybe we’re missing out, or wasting time, but the opposite is actually true. Progress is a process. When we allow our mind to be quiet, we move forward. Just because we don’t see the benefits immediately, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Over the past few months, as I’ve been focusing more on quieting my mind, I’ve noticed an improvement in how I weather the storms that come my way. I am more capable of handling life’s stresses and allowing my mind to be its own refuge. Throughout this process, I have not only strengthened my body but also my mind, and that is so incredibly important, too. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a moment and just breathe.