Iceland is home to extremes.
The extremes intoxicate us with both ambition and drowsiness. When the sun comes out in spring, we aspire to get all the chores done that we have had to postpone from the previous fall.
The garden needs a facelift, the car needs a wash, the barbecue needs to be cleaned, and the list goes on. We feel we need to get as much done as possible because we are aware of how sudden the shifts are in our climate and how even in summer there is a (good) chance of cold temperatures.
The extremes in our surroundings are so central to our existence, that in my opinion, our daily lives reflect that. So many of us rush from one place to another, starting the moment we wake up and lasting until we finally return home. Spouses, children, and pets fill our days with duties and on top of that, we try to squeeze in time to nurture our bodies and souls with the little spare time we have to ourselves.
A common characteristic of the Icelandic local is this need to go to the extremes and prove to ourselves that we can indeed do just about everything even though on the inside we are screaming for a bit of rest.
It wouldn’t surprise me if stress levels in Iceland were close to the higher range of the scale.
To find peace in the chaos is not always easy to do and for many of us we find that peace only in our own time, that time we put aside for ourselves. But sometimes, we add to the stress by placing expectations for an end goal, an end goal that ends up taking control from the simple goal of just being with ourselves.
For many of us, this space is reserved for physical activity. For years, I have been super-zealous to achieve a goal in that space rather than just enjoy the activity.
It wasn’t until last year that I finally found my personal space and truly enjoyed being in that moment. Cycling and running began to brighten my days but as always, I felt compelled to do weight training on top of that, largely to achieve more definition.
But even though I didn’t mind the classes, I wasn’t enjoying every moment of it.
But then I signed up for a yoga class at work and with the perfect instructor, found the peace I sought.
Twice a week, I enjoyed every moment of the class and found myself getting stronger and my right ankle that has been prone to injury for years now has been injury-free for half a year despite training hard for a season of half-marathons.
I had certainly done a little bit of yoga before but I was always not quite sure whether it was enough to get the results I wanted.
As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
From being an addition to my half-marathon training, yoga has all of a sudden become as important as my running. And the results are not only reflecting in a stronger body but in greater wellbeing.
If it hadn’t been for the yoga classes in the winter, I would have gone crazy in this horrid winter that just passed. It’s a wonderful way to escape from the madness that is the wintery extremes, and a wonderful way to find a bit of inner peace in the hectic routine of daily life.
And it seems I’m not the only one to have found solace in yoga. My colleagues with whom I’ve attended these classes have also found increased physical strength and peace of mind.
Recently, a new yoga studio adequately named the sun opened in my borough and it truly is my new haven, my escape from the routine of daily life and a warm and fuzzy place to go to on a cold spring day.
Yoga is becoming an increasingly popular activity here, in particular Hot Yoga (perhaps for obvious reasons).
Practicing yoga was my escape from the cruel winter that has now departed, and now as summer has (supposedly) arrived, yoga will continue to be my resting place—free of expectations other than enjoyment.
Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir(at)gmail.com