After class on Wednesday, my husband and I were talking about savasana (the pose where you lay on your back). He said that if there is ever proof that he has attention deficit disorder, it is in savasana. He said he couldn't just lay there and relax. He described what was going on inside his head like it was a cartoon, full of loud noises and music – he was distracted and unable to “let it go” of them. I tried to assure him that those sensations are totally normal; everyone’s got crazy stuff swirling around inside their heads.
I realized that if he was concerned or dismayed by his so-called inability to relax, more people in my classes probably feel this way. Please, don’t worry! You are not alone!
The ability to let your mind relax is something that takes practice and hard work. It’s tough – like one of the most insanely difficult things we do in yoga. But it is what makes yoga so different from other forms of pure exercise and what makes yoga so worthwhile.
Patanjali, a sage from 400 CE, defined yoga in the following way: “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is yoga.” Practicing to control the craziness that is happening inside of your brain is practicing yoga.
The first part of controlling the craziness of your mind is recognizing that there is craziness going on. My husband’s keen ability to identify the cartoon noises and loud music as distracting is awesome. It doesn’t mean he’s ADD. It means that he’s one step closer to being able to release that craziness and step outside of it.
Once you’ve identified the stuff going on inside your head as a distraction, you can work to let it go. The practice of identifying thoughts and releasing them is a form of meditation, which has many real-life benefits. Like increasing your ability to handle stressful situations, reducing anxiety or feelings of hopelessness, increasing happiness, your ability to concentrate, and your ability to perform complex problem-solving activities. Meditation actually increases the amount of grey matter in your brain, which is linked to increased memory, emotional stability, and empathy. Who dosen’t want that?
So don’t stress your inability to relax. Practice, and it will come with time.