Love. Friends are more important than money. Creativity is maximized when you’re living in the moment. For all of us who have ever even purchased a sweat band from the iconic Canadian apparel store Lululemon, you know these inspiring and simple phrases. You know them because they are printed on the bag you receive your purchase in and you carry that bag as proudly as you wear your scuba hoodie. Lululemon is not just a clothing store; they are in and of themselves a culture. A culture of “yogis” who invite you to practice with them during their free yoga classes on Sunday mornings and a culture who understands that by getting a little uncomfortable, great change can occur.
For any of you who know me, you know I practice yoga, albeit, less often than I would like. And for those of you who know me, you will know that I have recently decided to forgo my Honda Civic and take the lovely ttc, an hour and a half, every day to work. I made this decision partly for financial, partly for safety and partly just because I wanted a change from the drone of GTA traffic. One of the joys however, of taking the subway is that occasionally, I grab a copy of the Metro News. This evening, when I hopped onto the Bloor line, I picked up the paper which undoubtedly had been sneezed on, coughed on and probably farted on several times today. Today’s issue features an article with a headline that reads “Lulu plays blame game, expert says.” The columnist Emily Jackson, who ironically is from Vancouver, describes how one university Professor from the University of Western, Christine Lavrence, believes that “making customers feel bad about their mediocre lives may be the secret to Lululemon’s success at squeezing thousands into stretchy pants.” She goes on to say that the messages that appear on their bags such as “stress is related to 99 per cent of illness” are deeply unfair because they suggest that it is the consumers fault if they are ill and their lives are not fabulous. I truly feel sorry for the students at UoW if this is the type of material and forward thinking they are being exposed to.
Not only has this message been taken out of completely out of context by Professor Lavrence, but one only needs to do a Google search for “stress” and “illness” to uncover the myriad of diseases that stress has been linked to. Heart disease, diabetes, asthma, obesity, headaches, depression, anxiety and even Alzheimer’s, have all been associated with high stress levels. Stress can either be triggers for these aliments or it can worsen a current situation. Stress doesn’t just manifest itself in your head; it cripples the immune system, threatens the blood pressure and throws the hormonal system way out of balance.
So, for all those students at UoW who are stressing out over midterms, exams and life away from home, you might want to pick up a yoga map and just breathe. Breathe into your mat and let your body sink into the ground. Relax your mind and connect with the environment that surrounds you and allow yourself to receive the positive energy that is being passed along in the studio. Enjoy the benefits that practicing yoga will provide and settle into your body; listen to what it’s telling you.