Take your eating habits, for example. If you love macaroni and cheese with chicken nuggets and eat them day in and day out, chances are you will not be feeling very good. While in college, I deemed this the “dinner of champions” and had it multiple times a week. I also had acne, stomach issues, and was weighed 25 lbs heavier than I currently do. Sure it was tasty, but eating so much of the highly processed food was not doing my body any good. Nowadays, I do eat junk food (Kogi Spicy Pork Burrito, anyone?), but I limit it to once a week. I now aim to eat whole and plant based foods at every meal, and have the sweets or red meats on occasion. I feel much better, both inside and out, and no longer suffer from stomach issues. Moderation with your diet and what you consume can help you to feel better and be healthier.
What about exercise? If your activity of choice is running and you get out and pound the pavement 7 times a week, props to you. That takes a lot of dedication and hard work to bring your body up to a physical level that can withstand intense training. On the other hand, the constant pounding on the pavement may be doing your body more harm than good. Without rest, your muscles and bones don’t have time to repair the inevitable damage they get as a result of activity. Did you know that when you are sore, it is because you have micro tears in your muscles (and not lactic acid, which is a myth)? If you don’t give your body the chance to rest and repair, you will continue to damage your body. Overtime, what was a micro tear may lead to a significant tear, only because your body could not repair itself as fast as you were damaging it. Exercise hard and often – but also give your body the chance to rest and repair.
Yoga helps us learn and practice moderation to use throughout our life. Through your practice, you not only become aware of the two branches of the nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, but you learn to calm your nervous system down to spend more time in a relaxed state. The sympathetic nervous system is your “fight or flight” system. It is incredibly important when you need to remove yourself from an unsafe situation but not so important when you are sitting at your desk. The parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest and digest” system and is most dominant when we are completely relaxed. Both nervous systems are always active to some degree, but your overall feeling of relaxation or stress depends on which system is dominant. Since so much of our life off of the mat is stressful, from work, school, driving, or personal relationships. Yoga is something that is not only healthy for your body, but also helps to calm your mind. This allows you to find moderation in your temperament and sanity as well as feel better in your body.
Do you practice moderation? Think of one activity you are currently doing, and check in and see if you do it with moderation and mindfulness or not. If you are not doing the activity in moderation – see if you can change it! Start small – maybe for just a week, and see where it goes.