How I relax …. by Eddie Stephens
Family law attorneys are under constant stress at work. When personal lives become stressful as well, it can create a perfect storm of way too much stress in a person. Several years ago I found myself in one of those places. During that period of time, I found my way to yoga.
Twenty years ago, only a few people knew what “namaste” meant (while roughly equivalent to a respectful greeting or departure, when accompanied by hands pressed together in front of the heart, the gesture also means that we respect each other’s heart and soul – maybe we should start saying Namaste to each other before hearings, respectfully).
Yoga was for girls or hippies. Now it is so prevalent that it has become a part of the national consciousness. Yoga has even hit the legal arena, as certain poses (“asanas”) in a certain order are trademarked (see Bikram Yoga) or certain ways of setting up the mats become trademarked. New York is a legal hotbed of yoga, both as students sue teachers for injuries sustained in classes and NYC decides how to collect money from yoga studios. Was I aware of yoga? Absolutely. However, I was definitely one of those people who thought that yoga was complicated, taught in a foreign language, and only for the flexible, which did not include me.
The first class I was referred to was called a “restorative” class. It was an exceptionally slow moving class, and I didn’t need to know any yoga to participate. I learned to breathe into my belly to reduce stress. I learned to relax completely and trust my teacher. I found my mind cleared to the extent that during class, I would suddenly have thoughts that provided new perspective and clarity.
I moved into slightly more difficult classes, but have never had the time to devote to yoga to really become accomplished. After shoulder surgery in June, 2013 I couldn’t practice for months. As I made my way back to gentle yoga classes I realized just how much stronger yoga had made me. Physically, I am nowhere near where I was pre-surgery, but I have faith that I will get back there.
Yoga is the only form of exercise that I have ever really enjoyed. I don’t feel like I am exercising. I don’t feel like I am doing anything to reduce my stress. It just happens as a natural side effect of practicing yoga. The mental and physical focus has helped me in more than one area of my life.
And I can touch my toes.
Eddie– First, let me wish you everything good in the New Year and thank you for all your squibs in 2013. They have frequently made me aware of important cases I would not otherwise have seen. Thank you. Second, I think it’s great that you practice yoga (I had read the article in Family Law Section Commentator), and it’s important that people in our profession find ways to cope with the stress. I found myself as one of 3 or 4 attorneys on an almost 4 hour conference call the other day. Everybody was getting totally stressed, so I sat down on the office floor and worked on a forward bend practice while the call went on. It made a difference. I’m in the middle of a YogaWorks teacher training course now with Edwin Bergman on Miami Beach. If you find yourself down our way, please give me a call, and I’d like it if you would be my guest for a class at YogaThat. The best ones are alignment (Iyengar-inspired) classes at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Just let me know. My cell is 786.302.7465. Regards, George Franklin