ferris bueller had his day off, here’s mine

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” –  Ambrose Redmoon (who by the way, is super anonymous. 10 bucks for someone who can figure out who he is.)

During my last swim meet ever, I remember telling one of my friends about my favorite quote, except I changed it up a little (thanks to my excellent memory): “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is when you face fear and smile at it, because you realize there’s something much more important you need to do.” My way of nicely saying stop overthinking and grow a pair.


I was debating yesterday whether to go to this Zumba class down the street. 6:30 was slowly approaching, and I kept thinking of excuses not to go. But seriously – no work, no school. It’s about time I start doing things outside my comfort zone. I mean, that’s what this summer is all about, right?

So finally I had the guts to head over. Upon entering the 24-hour fitness club, I saw a long line trailing from the ellipticals all the way down the stairs. First thought: “Mice on wheels. People really need to get out more and run.” That was until I realized that the line was actually for Zumba, not for the machines. Okay, you guys are forgiven.

Zumba = seriously one of the best ideas ever. I love going to clubs and dancing like it’s May 21, which makes this the perfect form of exercise.  I’m not the best dancer, especially when it actually comes to coordinated dance moves, but being in a room with busty old women, flamboyantly gay men, and an assortment of other young people enthusiastically pumping it out to some tunes is seriously fun. You woop, you smile, you roll your r’s, and you sweat a ton. It’s a party. Who cares if you can’t actually do any of the moves.There isn’t any time to pay attention to the fear of looking like a fool because you’re too giddy from trying to figure out what to do.

You can laugh, but this vs. swimming endless laps in a pool? Incomparable. Thus begins my attempt of developing some form of physical coordination on land.

I followed that up with some Yin Yoga at the Yoga Garden, which has a completely different energy level. Most people are familiar with Vinyasa yoga or some other Yang style yoga that is full of movement and energy. Yin is somewhat restorative and is deceptively simple. It consists of a series of stretching poses held for 3-5 minutes and is all about simply being.You are not meant to push yourself, but instead allow your body to naturally melt into the pose, which opens up your connective tissues. This can cause emotional reactions, which for some people can be overwhelming. At times I was fidgety because I was bored, while other times I was surprised by the thoughts and reactions the poses caused.

Although psychiatrists like to recommend people with addictions to do Yin yoga, it has to be approached with caution. The teacher has to keep an eye on the student to make sure he/she understands that coming out of the pose is allowed if the rising emotions or memories become too intense. That’s when he/she has to have the courage to respect their body and step back from the exercise.

It seems contradictory, but you actually get to stare fear down during Yin Yoga. It’s kind of awesome. Sometimes a fearful or worrying thought would begin to develop in my mind, but then I realized that it’s all just up in there. You can actually detach yourself from that thought and observe it from a distance. You aren’t emotionally bound to it anymore.

I can already hear people saying “Whaaa?” (Cantonese accent included). Okay, we can get a bit scientific. People who do yoga and/or meditation on a consistent basis in comparison to controls have been shown to have decreased left amygdala activation through fMRI studies. Buddhist monks can actually control blood flow to the area through compassion meditation.

The amygdala is one of my fave brain parts (yes, it’s possible to have a favorite brain part). It’s involved with fear conditioning, and patients with social phobia, borderline personality disorder, and depression all have higher activity in the left amygdala. Notice any connections? Psychiatrists have started to recommend yoga/meditation as treatment for a lot of psychological disorders. For more friendly reading on the delicious subject of fear, I recommend reading Srini Pillay’s Life Unlocked. There’s also more to be said on amygdala volume and its correlations, but that’s for another time.

So that was a solely mind-body day. DELICIOUSNESS RETURNS TOMORROW.

Daily Nutrition Report

Nothing noteworthy. I did miss breakfast thanks to a 2pm wakeup.

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Filed under dance, neuroscience, spiritual

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