When I visited the zoo in Antananarivo, Madagascar a month ago, I was fascinated with the huge tortoises. They can live up to 160 years! Do you think we can learn something from these magnificent creatures about how to slow down?
Our guide at the zoo told us that these incredible animals live long lives because they move slowly and they eat mindfully. Their diet consists of simple vegan food, lettuce, carrots, etc…Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting we only eat raw lettuce and carrots!
When you see how slowly the tortoises move in person, its truly is remarkable.
Not only do the tortoises move in slow motion, they are NOT bothered. What do I mean by this? As visitors, we were able to pet the the turtles as long as we wanted.
I saw kids pet the turtles all over their faces. They were not being so careful either. I was a bit concerned. Even with my positive thinking, I thought, these turtles are going to snap. A kid is going to loose a finger! The tortoises had not a care in the world. Unbelievable. Not even a flinch. Can you imagine?
We live in a culture addicted to fast living. Trained to react instead of taking the time to respond. No time to cook healthy homemade meals. Slaves to our cell phones. Pill popping to stay up and then more pills to go to sleep. No time to stop and smell the roses. We are squeezing in our workouts. Meditate? Who has time for that? I’m sure we all have friends and family we don’t see enough. All leading to chronic stress, depression, anxiety and dis-ease. This is happening in all age groups.
Most of us who understand the need to work on slowing down have had to commit to readjusting our hectic lifestyles. It takes commitment, consistency and making mistakes. If you are like me, this way of living is still a work in progress.
In the beginning there may be a sense of guilt for choosing to live this way. I’ve heard people say they feel bad. They feel looked down upon for taking the time to nourish their mind, body, spirit and relationships. I can relate. We must remember, at the end of the day, we are responsible for ourselves. One breath, one moment, one shift at a time.
Of course, we are human beings living full multi passionate lives. Living in Los Angeles, we are in so much traffic, once we get somewhere, we have to rush! No seriously, you have to find a pace that works best for you. It may not seem realistic right now. However, with the intention to slow things down, little by little, you’ll see how you can actually be more productive, have more energy and live a happier life.
The first Tortoise Pose, half tortoise, can be practiced in the beginning of your yoga practice. It is known to rejuvenate and relax the body, help relieve digestion and constipation problems, increase lung capacity, be great for respiratory conditions, help with insomnia, increase flexibility in hips.
The second Tortoise pose is more challenging. If you are new to yoga, only practice this pose with a teacher you you trust. One needs to do an energizing standing practice first. Then the floor work needs to involve leg, hip and groin openers. Practice this pose mindfully to your own degree. You may not get very far, thats ok. Go to your own edge, no further. In a addition to the above benefits, this pose stretches the legs, back, shoulder and chest, lengthens the back muscles, is an anxiety buster!
Image Credits- Traffic photo google images reddit.com, tortoise photos taken by Cindi Lee