How To Rebalance Your Stress Equation

Do you want to heal? Look at how stress moves in your body and life.

If stress is going into your body and making a home in you, your body will play defense like a pro, but will have a tough time healing. Find a way to reverse that direction. Stress will come. Find a way to keep it moving on out, and let your body shift from defense to healing. Your body is a pro here, too. It will even tell you what it needs. You just have to listen.

Tara and I get to see how people work with stress a lot in our studio and Strala travels. It’s normal in the yoga world to set all sights on getting the pose. When we meet people who are used to that approach, we see a lot of strain and struggle to push into and hold onto poses. Right up to the moment people crash out of them.

People get injured this way. More importantly, people make a home for stress in their minds and bodies. All this time practicing struggle and frustration in yoga unbalances the stress equation, and sends it headlong in our direction. What we want is to unbalance things in the other direction.

Some people are really inspiring when it comes to handling stress. When they move, they move easily. When they're still, they remain easy, relaxed, and movable. Stress is leaving them. This makes their yoga inspiring. They leave even the most challenging class feeling relaxed. Not worn out and drained — with the dehydration-induced euphoria that it's done! — but completely relaxed. Their body has worked hard, but their mind has stayed easy. It's the difference between working stress into your body and mind, and letting it go. This difference is also what makes people's lives inspiring. Tara and I get happy every day because we get to be around all this. It’s a good life, and we’re lucky for it.

This is a useful aim, in everything we do — working hard, but staying easy. Yoga and fitness classes give us a great place to practice.

When people push and struggle through a tense yoga or fitness class, everyone sweats up a storm! When we're tense in the mind — scared and worrying "Am I doing it right? Am I good enough?? Will I survive???" — we're often trying to follow someone else's orders, someone else's way. Stress checks in, and it doesn't check out! You leave tense. This doesn't lead to better eating. It doesn't lead to better health. It doesn't lead to happy. It just gives you a sense that you've done what you have to do.

When we're easy in our minds and bodies, we're following our own body, our own feeling. We're getting capable at working with what we've got, rather than pushing against ourselves. In a tough class, yes we'll sweat! But not quite as much, and interestingly enough, the sweat will have different properties! Most interestingly, we'll be able to do far more, far more capably. The same challenges require less energy. You don't get so tired, and you repair more quickly. This is a great place to be. It's in all of us to be this way.

Our bodies are tuned to be healthy and capable. It's in our nature. We just need some practice working with ourselves rather than against — letting stress go rather than holding it tight.

How do we get there? See the world as yours to create. There are no gurus or rules here. There are no pose goals, and there's no single correct way. People are getting into themselves, their own bodies and minds, in their own way. They’re getting free by practicing their own freedom. They’re getting intuitive and creative practicing their own intuition and creativity. These people around us are making their own inspiring lives by practicing exactly what they want to live, right where they are, wherever they are. These people are amazing! They’re all around the world, and we all get to share this life with each other.

You are one of these people!

We all have the choice to live this way. It’s not something that exists outside of us, it’s not something we need someone else to give us. We all have it. Just get quiet enough to hear it, and build a life from what you hear.

Michael Taylor

Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard and complementary medicine at Oxford. Mike has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years. In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of reasonable and well-tested martial traditions in hundreds of competitions by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable. His record established the strength of finding your own way in your own body rather than copying the techniques of other people’s traditions. As he got older, Mike continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the United States and England, he left his health care roots for a little while. As the first internet boom was getting started, he joined the startup team of one company, then founded a couple more. Now through Strala, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, enable their lives, and become their own best caregivers.Mike has climbed some of the world’s largest mountains in Alaska, the Alps, and the Himalayas. He’s now a cyclist and runner and spends as much free time as possible exploring the backcountry on foot, skis, and snowboard. He lives in New York with his wife, Tara, and baby, Daisy.

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Michael Taylor

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