I often pose this question to my students at different times throughout class. I'm not wondering if they need a break (although they might), I don't really want to know if someone needs a bathroom break, and I'm pretty sure that someone is thinking about food. I'm asking them be hyper-aware of their present situation and realize that it's just temporary.
What do you need right now? If you strip away everything that is temporary- money, material goods, and external stimulus what is left? Right now.
You might pick up on a sensation someplace in your body- a muscle begging to stretched, relaxed, or relieved. Possibly a joint overextended, or misaligned slightly. Maybe your breath- choppy or smooth. If you are lucky you might become fully aware that in this exact moment there is nothing to need, because later you can worry about getting a drink, massaging the muscle cramp, or answering an email. But right now, in this moment you need nothing.
And that is liberating. It's freeing to know that right now you have all that you need.
Ok, big deal, in yoga class you can be philosophical. That's super handy for about 45 minutes 3 days a week. What does that have to do with anything?
It has to do with changing habits and creating a new mindset. Every time you remember to microfocus on right now, you step away from the big stressful world and take a break from the hard stuff. It is an opportunity to let shit go, it's the chance to dig a little deeper and find your truth.
What do you need right now?
Try it the next time you feel overwhelmed. Pull out the journal, and write down as many answers to that questions as they come to mind until you are empty. Then go through the list and cross off material things. Third round, cross off things that don't matter now, did anything change? Keep going as long as you need to until you get to one or two things that you need right now. Don't be surprised if your answer ends up as: "nothing."
Also, FYI, this works for food too...but that's another post.
SO feeling overwhelmed? Angry? Stressed? Go to yoga- make some new feelings.