My wake up call? I was going through some old papers and I saw that I had let my yoga certification lapse. I couldn’t believe it. Eight years ago I traveled to Boulder, CO, and took the exam that made me a certified yoga teacher in the tradition of BKS Iyengar, completing a 15 year journey. It was one of the most important achievements of my life, a peak moment, and the one which I planned to build my new, post-divorce life on the foundation of.
As they say, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Certainly my life has proved the rule. Having built a yoga, ayurveda, and holistic massage business called Materia Medica, I understood that the business would require my time mostly when I wanted to be with my children, and that, after all, I did not want to sell yoga for a living. And so I used my pre-digital experience as a marketer and project manager to found Colibri Digital Marketing.
The Digital Age
I like to say that the world went digital in 2007, when the iPhone was launched. Since then, the way we work and play has been revolutionized — and it hasn’t all been for the better. Back in the day, when I was in the field of social welfare, when we taught people how to market, we trained them to make paper flyers and mail newsletters via snail mail.
Now we send out digital flyers via an eBlast. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with sending out an eBlast, life is is more about speed and quantity. Quality counts, too, but the definition of quality has changed as we try to catch our audience’s ever more cluttered attention.
We are all moving from paper flyers and newsletters to snapchat, which is all about sending images that disappear after you’ve viewed them. They might as well disappear: After all, how often do you go back and fondly review your old tweets? And I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with this, either. My son uses snapchat and regularly gives me news updates from the “stories” he follows on the platform. I’ve read a few of them, and they are generally very well-written and informative — if I had more time I would read them more often.
Let’s take the paper newsletter, which has become email marketing. It used to be that people sent out quarterly or monthly paper newsletters. Now, people send out drip email campaigns, which are a series of emails. This means more production and expense for marketers and the companies that hire us, and more information for consumers to wade through.
The Stress Effects of the Digital Age
The effect of this is that there is an always-increasing workload for everyone involved — and with no clear end. The situation might be more extreme for me, since this is the work I do, but most of the people I talk to share the same story: they are busy, busy, busy and feel busier all the time.
True story: I recently had a very difficult client, and every time I saw one of his emails in my inbox, I felt a stab of pain in my chest. I thought that was crazy — until I started telling friends and colleagues about it. It turns out that most of the people I spoke to had experienced the same thing or similar. In other words, the average person suffers from anxiety just as a result of dealing with email. Probably people used to feel that way when they were dealing with snail mail, too. But the volume was something like one or two letters per day — as opposed to the 100 emails I receive each day. All things being equal, I would rather have two stabs of chest pain per day then 100. How about you?
Yoga Comes to the Rescue
The digital age creates these problems:
- Increased sedentary time
- Poor posture and alignment
- Decreased physically proximate time with people
- Information overload
There may be more issues I did not list, but you get the idea. I also won’t cover all the benefits we have as a result of our ability to carry small computers around and text friends our selfies. It is nice to be able to share our experiences. I’m doing that right now, aren’t I?
The great thing about yoga is that it helps you with your problems, but it also helps you enjoy the good times more. Here is a little bit more about how yoga helps:
On a very practical level, yoga increases your strength, balance, and flexibility. You’ll need those now and into old age if you want or have to work beyond retirement age, put your groceries away, or play with a grandchild (I want to do that!).
On a less tangible but still super practical level, yoga helps you stay calm and focused, which helps you work and play your best. Yoga also helps you stay consciously in your body, which “feels good” and elevates your mood. The physical benefits also foster a meditation practice which is yoga’s true end game. As one of my teacher’s put it: “Yoga helps you do anything you want to do better.”
In my case, yoga helps me be self-aware enough to prioritize the things I think are truly important in life, which include taking time to be physically healthy, write, and spend time with my kids.
A Happy Ending
As soon as I realized what I had let my membership lapse, I wrote to the staff at the Iyengar Yoga Association. I had to do some soul searching to understand how I had let busy, busy, busy take over and let myself get out of touch with what I think is most important in life. Fortunately, I was able to pay my back fees and work with the association to start making up my continuing education units, which I began immediately.
When the going gets rough, the tough do more yoga. And so now I am back on track, taking yoga several times per week and even launching a Sunday afternoon yoga class at Nagata Dance (just down the street from my house). The point of the class is to give students a treat at the end of the weekend.
If you are like so many people I know, you work hard and you play hard. My class will gently stretch you and calm your nervous system, so you can settle down from all the busyness of the weekend and prepare yourself to go into the busyness of the work week with a calm, clear mind and body. I would love to see you there, so together and in the midst of our busy, busy, busy digital age we can take a little time to focus on the tranquil and the sweet sides of life.
Would You Like to Experience Yoga for the Digital Age?
The class is offered at Nagata Dance Studio, 1740 Buchanan Street (Buchanan Plaza), San Francisco, from 4:30 to 5:30 pm on Sundays.
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