I’m not sure if I will be able to adequately put into words what the practice of yoga has done to my life, but I feel I must try.
Yoga finds us when we are ready. Ten years ago when I was a dance major in college, I started a regular yoga practice as a way to get some electives towards my degree. I was very underwhelmed by it. It didn’t stick, and I slowly put all my focus back on dance. Looking back now, I know I was not in a place in my life where I was ready for yoga. I wasn’t ready to look inside; to search for and become aware of my true self. I was 22 years old and didn’t know who I was or what I wanted out of life yet. If you find yourself just not really feeling it, maybe you are not ready. Maybe you are like me and aren’t ready for the depth, patience and awareness involved in yoga. And that’s OK! One of the things we learn in yoga is to accept ourselves where we are in that moment. So accepting where you are on the path of yoga is good and needed. You will find the fire to go deeper when you are ready. For now, just start where you are.
This time around, I’m not even sure if I can pinpoint the exact time or day that yoga found me, it just sort of happened. And now it’s been about one year of a daily practice, daily meditation, daily yoga studies, and daily attempts to fully live yoga. It lights me up. And has become a necessity of daily life. Here are just a few of my reasons why yoga rocks:
Yoga Is Physical
The yoga asanas are in and of themselves amazing. I love the way my body feels after working through some postures. I feel energized, supple, focused, warm and calm. Whether hitting the mat for a 60 min flow or popping into a few postures in between flights at the airport, my body goes through a little transformation, inside and out, each time. Even if I am less than successful at connecting breath and body during my session, or my mind was scattered all over the place, moving my body always makes my day a little bit better. I know you have felt this in some form. Any kind of exercise can bring this euphoria, whether it’s running, HIIT workouts or weight lifting, and yoga is right up there with these. Yoga can give you a heart pumping workout, but there is also a grace and beauty to it as well. You can tone muscles, build strength and increase your heart rate all the while looking like a graceful swan.
Yoga Cultivates Connection
We all have a desire for connection. It’s human nature. Yoga will deepen your mind/body/soul connection, your connection to the Divine and your connection to Mother Earth. I never realized how disconnected my mind and body were until I began yoga. It has brought a level of self awareness that I never imagined I would have. Each time I step onto the mat, I connect with my soul, the real me. Yoga is helping me to let go of outward expectations and radiate my true self. Making these connections can set us free.
I have developed a more personal relationship to my God through yoga. It’s a way for me to connect with Him that also speaks to me as well. Whatever your version of the Divine, yoga will deepen that awareness.
The Earth has energies and frequencies that can balance and ground our own energies. If you have ever spent time in nature, you have felt what it can do for your emotions and spirit. Yoga helps us become aware of our connection to Mother Earth and how she can help balance our lives.
Yoga Invites Calm
We are encouraged to connect with our breath during our practice, to link our movements to our breath. We focus on lengthening the breath during those more intense asanas to allow our bodies to ease into them more fully. That focus on our breath, the rhythmic inhale and exhale, clears our mind and allows us to let go of all the negative. With a calm, clear mind we can bring our awareness to ourselves and to the present.
As an anxiety sufferer, this has really changed my life. After each practice I feel a peace that permeates my whole body. That same calm and peace allow me to move forward despite my fears and uncertainties. It’s been a huge breakthrough for me. I crave the peaceful elegance and grace I feel after I flow.
Yoga Inspires Growth
Yoga inspires us to improve, to accomplish new and hard things and to cultivate the best version of ourselves that we can. It is change and reaching a point in our lives we have never been before. I am daily inspired to perfect the more difficult poses and increase the length of my meditative practices. I want to feel and discover what my body is truly capable of. I am inspired to get a deeper mind/body connection. Each time we get on the mat, we influence new growth and change in our hearts, bodies and minds.
Yoga Is Being Present
Yoga supports and teaches to live in the present moment. It’s a practice for accepting and loving who you are and where you are in your life. It fosters patience in growth and change. This can be applied to any part of our lives, whether it’s on the mat, in our meditative practice, in our relationships, or in our careers and hobbies. It’s a beautiful concept that when practiced on the mat can manifest itself in other areas of our lives. And isn’t that what we all need? Enough self love to be present in the process?
Yoga is more than just a “workout” or getting a “bikini bod.” It’s a way of living. All of these things are yoga and they translate into our lives on a daily basis. You may have started out doing yoga for the asanas or postures and that’s ok, because we all have to start somewhere, but to truly claim a yoga practice, you must adopt all sides of it. T.K.V. Desikachar says, “If we are to be complete human beings, we must incorporate all aspects of ourselves, and do so step by step……our relationships with others, our behavior, our health, our breathing and our meditation path.”
These are just a few of my personal experiences with yoga. It’s been revealing to write this post, to really define for myself what yoga has given me thus far. That can give me the motivation I need on days when I just want to sit around, watch movies and eat ice cream. We all have those days! I encourage everyone to start a practice and define what yoga is for you. Then you will always have that reason to keep at it.