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I Think, Therefore I Suffer -- That's Why I Need Yoga

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I woke up feeling negative.

I told my husband I felt negative (subtext: he better stay away) and I found myself moving into the afternoon feeling... you guessed it... negative.

The things that normally help me didn't seem to as much today -- and I knew I wasn't going to be able to break away to yoga (something that is a surefire mood booster for me). And then I remembered: I don't need to go to yoga, yoga comes to me. In fact, it is already a part of me. I only need to remember that, and then I can access it.

This is where the whole philosophy of yoga, incorporating so much more than just physical practice, comes into play. It's the notion that anything that turns you back to yourself, your inner wisdom, is yoga.

I remember reading about yoga philosophy and one particular concept striking me: Anytime you are feeling uncomfortable, whether that be anxious, depressed, or just unsettled (or you have an ongoing argument with someone in your head -- does that ever happen to anyone else?), your energy or life force is dissipating. The practice of yoga is that which helps reverse this dissipation. It is a practice of containing your life force within, and thereby restoring harmony. So you have your own internal radar system -- when you feel out of whack, you know it is time to focus within and get your balance (or groove) back... from within.

It certainly doesn't mean being or becoming OK with craziness or unfair/unjust circumstances or events. Rather, it means that you are able to ride the waves that accompany these events (and life) in a more comfortable way.

So here's what I did to try to come back to center: I took a few moments to look into my dog's sweet face, think about the kind of universe that creates such pure love, innocence and comfort in the form of a creature... and began to feel better. I took a few more moments and thought about my delicious, homemade, hot lunch I enjoyed, and how I was looking forward to baking some banana bread with my son later. My mood did begin to subtly shift.

Can I say I became overwhelmed with joy? No -- and that's really not me, in general. I can say, though, that my view began to shift toward gratitude and I began to feel more comfortable with my day and with myself. Gratitude for my life and the many components in it, as well as the gratitude for the remembrance of my biggest tool in calming the beast of my mind -- my yoga practice. And there wasn't one physical pose involved in it at all.

Dr. Cindy Haines is Chief Medical Officer of HealthDay News and Managing Editor of HealthDay-Physician's Briefing. Dr. Cindy is also President of Haines Medical Communications, Inc. and an Ambassador for Wellness using yoga as an entry to mindful medicine.

Dr. Haines, a board certified family physician, is frequently called upon to provide expert commentary on issues relating to all areas of health care. Dr. Haines' first book, The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System (HCI Books, May 2011; Dr. Cynthia Haines and Eric Metcalf) is available now. Visit Dr. Cindy on Facebook, Twitter @drcindyhaines or at www.drcindyhaines.com.

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