Hi all! Please welcome Whole Life Yoga 500-hour teacher training graduate Jayde Pryzgoda to the Whole Life blog today. Read on to learn how to build balance and social integration in the midst of our high-tech world….
Lately, I’ve noticed that my body is increasingly in this shape:
This “pose” leads to a tight jaw, sore neck, strained vision, and hunched shoulders. Yet I willingly find myself this way many, many times a day. What’s going on?
No, that’s not a book I’m holding… About five years ago I bought my first smart phone. And while I no longer need a smart phone for work, over last 4 years I have slowly come to enjoy being attached to this small, ever-present and convenient source of news, entertainment, and connection to friends and loved ones. It is my personal portal to the world wide web.
I don’t consider myself very tech-savvy or dependent, but when I honestly assess my daily behavior these are some facts I find:
- I always know exactly where my smart phone is. This is more than I can say for my keys, my cat, and my husband!
- I check my phone every 2 hours, on average. I check the internet at my computer in between.
- I take my phone to the bathroom. Apologies if this is too personal, but it makes a point. I’m attached.
Turns out I’m not alone. According to a Pew Research Center report from April 2015, 64% of adults own a smart phone and 46% of smart phone owners say they “couldn’t live without” it.
As I learn more about our interactions with internet technology, I recognize that my posture is only one of the things likely to change if I keep up this level of “connectedness.” In her recent book, “Reclaiming Conversation,” MIT sociologist and clinical psychologist Sherry Turkle, highlights some social impacts of our device-time: decreased ability and comfort with face to face connection, difficulty being alone, difficulty knowing ourselves, and a shift towards presenting our idealized selves to the world, thus side-stepping authentic connection. She proposes that device-time robs us of solitude- our quiet time to simply sit and be with our own thoughts, emotions, and inner experience. And that decreased solitude ultimately leads to disruption in our deep connection with ourselves and with others.
So how can Yoga help?
The promise of yoga is the integration, or fluid working together of our body, mind, and breath. We could say yoga helps us create our own inner-web. The practices of yoga (movement of our bodies and breath, meditation, chant) provide us with many options for getting to know our inner experience, or in other words: opportunities for solitude.
So if you are into yoga, (and you must be to read this far!), you are in luck. Building a daily practice may hold a key to maintaining the balance of solitude and authentic connection. But as with all things, this hypothesis is best tested personally. If like me, you find yourself very attached to your internet time, join me in experimenting with some alternatives.
Some things to try:
- Consciously set aside 5 or 10 minutes daily for a personal practice. For tips on developing your home practice, check out Tracy Weber’s blog entry Nine Tips for a Successful Home Yoga Practice
- Better yet, before reaching for that phone or internet:
- Take 10 mindful breaths
- Go for a walk or find a quiet space for some gentle movements (think forward bends, warrior I, or just resting your forehead on your forearms.)
- When you go to yoga class, arrive early, put your phone away at least 5 minutes before instruction starts, lay down and attend to your breathing. At the end of class, see if you can wait until you are out of the building and well on your way before checking your phone.
- When you finally do find yourself squinting at the smart phone (or table, or computer), take a pause. Check your posture, take a breath, and scan your attention head to toe. How do you feel physically…mentally…emotionally? Listen to your answers and make a conscious choice about your next move.
Good luck – I’ll be out there practicing with you. Let me know how it goes!
Jayde Pryzgoda is a WLY graduate, yoga teacher, and practicing clinical psychologist in the Seattle area. She is interested in the intersections of yoga, mental health and physical well being and she starting a new blog to explore these topics and more.