Fight or Flight

selective focus photography of green succulent plant

There are 31 spinal nerves that are connected to the spinal cord that control our every move. Things like stress cause the nerves to bundle up under a big goose down winter coats so they can hide away from all the things we’re putting them through.

Since stress causes things like not getting a good night of sleep, slouching, holding tension in our faces and body language, all of those things are just a small portion of what causes our spinal nerves to build up tension, and put their “winter coats” on.

When this happens, we aren’t able to carry out tomorrow’s tasks as well as we would be able to if we didn’t hold so much tension. I believe that is why we become clumsy, forgetful, tired, emotional, impatient, and the list just goes on and on. 

photo from ABC-of-Yoga.com super member yogitonmoy

So what do we do?

When winter’s chill turns to spring’s warmth, we hang up our jackets until next year, right? If we’re lucky enough, we may even live in an environment where winter coats never have to be worn.

There are millions of non-believers when it comes to Yoga, and there are also millions of believers who do enjoy Yoga, but the percentage of yogis that truly understand it, I do not know. I sense that it is less than half, maybe only 20%. Being a new trend in fitness, the skill it takes to complete Yoga is far beyond what most people presume. 

Yoga is one of the answers to be able to live with your “winter coat” off.

Incredible. Simple, yet empowering. A pastry chef puts their love into each and every royal icing flower he or she creates, a welder seals each and every crevice precisely. A true yogi can feel each and every fiber of muscle working strong. He or she feels each breath traveling to the internal organs, he or she can literally draw warm breath to a cold toe, making it warm.

Incredible.

That is what Yoga is all about.

I never thought, no, I laughed at the thought that I could breathe my lower back pain (on that particular day) away. I was new at Yoga. I didn’t understand what “throat breathing” was. I would always hear “that ocean sounding breath”.

Simple, yet at first, it is difficult to understand what a person means by this. Now, I use it all throughout my routines, and even in the car during traffic or on a chilly walk back to the car after class. 

Breathing, something we do unconsciously every second, can be the most life-saving tool.

We always knew that we need to breathe in order to live. It’s when we stop treating our breath as an unconscious tool, and start focusing on it that we realize how good it feels. We can control it, we can use it to draw oxygen to cells that need to take their winter coats off. So it is one of the ways we can begin to unzip the winter coat. It is breath.

Breathing with a purpose helps.

Some say that if we can sit and pay attention to our breath for five minutes a day, it will benefit our health, others say 10 minutes, some say 20. I say if you can at least remember to breathe with intent during times of stress; then you have already saved yourself from getting stressed out too much, and instead tuned into your body when it needed you the most… before it could put its winter coat on and hide away.

If you can also practice breathing mindfully (let’s say breathing in slowly for five seconds, holding for five seconds, and breathing out slowly for five seconds, (that’s what I usually do) for no particular reason other than health, then you are doing enough. 

The other way is to practice Asanas (positions).

Each Asana helps to relax and rejuvenate a different part of the body. Every posture releases pressure, and draws oxygen to the body which, in essence, helps to get rid of toxins. The last way to remove the winter coat is to fuel your body with healthy food options.

In doing breathing exercises and Asanas, we are getting our bodies back to a natural state. That is why eating healthy, natural foods is highly recommended. If we want our bodies to become a natural being, then we need to eat natural foods. 

The answer

The next idea that has been with me for quite some time is the concept of fight or flight. It is when our body steps up to the plate, and saves our lives. Adrenaline takes over, and our entire body chemistry changes in order to adapt to possible threats such as wounds.

If our mind and body can make a decision to alter its state of being in order to protect itself in a matter of seconds, then why can’t we make the decision to care for our body? We have all the time in the world to make the decision, and we never do. It is always put off until tomorrow, or next month, or New Year’s Day.

What if someone broke into our home and instead of our minds going into fight or flight mode, it said…”Nah, I’m tired. I’ll go to sleep mode. Maybe next week I’ll give you superhuman abilities to run out of the house where it’s safe.” Our bodies would never let us down in that way, and we shouldn’t either. 

Conclusion

It’s time to take the winter coat off so that everyday tasks become easier, so that the people we love and care for see us as pleasant beings instead of grouches, so that we can feel better about our selves, and build up discipline, respect, and confidence in our bodies, and all they are capable of. Ditch the winter coat.