“Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.” ~ Jason Crandell
If you’ve never practiced yoga, or have practiced very little, you may think yoga is just about getting a good workout and becoming more flexible.
You may think it’s only for chicks who are young, slim, and fit. But nothing could be further from the truth!
Yes, there are tremendous physical benefits that accompany a safe and consistent yoga practice, but there is so much more to the practice of yoga.
For starters, yoga brings us back into harmony with our own bodies.
The point is not to bend, twist, or stretch ourselves into awkward and uncomfortable poses until we reach a point of perfection. It’s not to judge our bodies or to compare our practice to our neighbors. In addition to the physical benefits that come with care and proper form in the asanas or postures, we are able to develop a deeper sense of compassion towards ourselves.
Through openly and compassionately exploring our physical and mental reactions to different poses, we come to better understand ourselves–we can sense when certain parts of bodies or psyche are out of balance, and through the practice of yoga, we are able to restore that balance.
“When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice of Yoga, the yogi by the grace of the Spirit within himself finds fulfillment.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar
When practiced absentmindedly, yoga is nothing more than fancy calisthenics. But when practiced with deep awareness, yoga becomes a way to harness the energy of a restless mind and body and to channel that energy in constructive ways.
This is why yoga is such an incredible gift to anyone who chooses to practice it consciously. It doesn’t matter if you are young or aged, large or small, flexible or not. If you can breathe and observe your breath, you can practice yoga–and benefit from it.
In this sense, the yoga asanas become “vehicles for experiencing one’s essential nature rather than goals in and of themselves.” (Donna Farhi)
Essentially, yoga is another path of self-discovery–one that leads to our truest selves. However, unlike so many books, teaching, and practices prevalent in the Western world, yoga is not meant to be another method of “self-improvement.”
While it’s true that we are always making progress through practice, yoga is not about making additions or improvement to your life; rather, it’s about “deconstructing all the barriers we may have erected that prevent us from having an authentic connection with ourselves and with the world.” (Donna Farhi)
Viewed, practiced, and shared in this way, yoga becomes a powerful gift we give to ourselves.
It’s this aspect of my practice that I hope to deepen and develop over the next 4 weeks, as I’m headed to Yandara Yoga Institute for yoga teacher training!
You were beginning to wonder what all this yoga talk was about, weren’t you?
Yep, I’m off on another adventure, but rather than journey back to the yoga motherland (India), I’m off to the sunny beaches of Mexico! Along with my fellow students, I’ll be learning the ins and outs of yoga philosophy and asanas, practicing in the sand, eating delicious and nutritious meals, singing around bonfires at night, and studying by headlamp in my tent.
All of this so I can return and begin sharing the joys of yoga with the world!!
Before I go, I would like to leave you with a little video I made as part of my essay submission for a scholarship contest. (No I didn’t win–but that sure didn’t stop me from making this happen!!)
I would love to hear your yoga stories–if you practice or not and why, and if so, about the effect yoga has on your life. Unfortunately, I won’t have internet access, so I won’t be able to read them until I return. But hey, it’ll give me something to look forward to!