What does Yoga mean to you? How do you embrace it in your life? Is it a physical means to stretch out stiff muscles and bend yourself into all shapes and forms to defy what you thought your body could never do? Or is it a mindful physical practice that intuitively allows you to turn inwards to connect with the breath, the mind and your spirit?
Your practice can simply be embraced as a regular routine to your exercise regime balancing out the physical aspects that other modalities do not provide for, and that in itself, is perfectly fine. The benefits of Yoga on all other levels subtly work their way into your being even if you are not consciously aware of them. That is the magic of Yoga.
Your practice may embrace a more conscious level of Yoga where you apply the principles of Yoga philosophy towards your body and inner being on the mat as well as off the mat in your life. Why? Because essentially that is what Yoga encompasses, it is a lifestyle, it is a philosophy. To reiterate, Yoga is not a religion. It is a way of being, a conscious way of thinking, feeling and being. The fact that one may choose to become closer to God, to Source, to the Creator, to Spirit, which ever term you deem best suited for you, through the practice of Yoga can be seen as a blessing… A blessing of becoming more aware, more awakened, more connected to Self and all that is beyond the material world.
What Yoga is not about, is posing, performing or competing, most especially not competing with oneself, to be better than or to look like the other person next to you on the mat, who effortlessly balances on one arm whilst all other limbs float above the mat. If that is not what you can do now or maybe never, then that is okay. Where you are in that pose at that point in your life is your Yoga. The rest will follow, with practice, with perseverance, with time and, if that is where your body wants to go. That is one of the reasons I love Yoga, it is for everyone, no matter the age and no matter the flexibility level. There is Yoga for the more athletic who want more strenuous Yoga, Yoga for children, Yoga for those who need a more gentle approach, therapeutic Yoga, Yoga for those who need something in between, …. You will find your way on the mat and Yoga will meet you there… it will meet you where you are and serve you as you need it and how you need it to.
As a practitioner and as a teacher it is so easy and common to fall into the abyss of fear and comparison. Fear of not being as able and adept in more challenging poses, comparison that creates lack of self-confidence because certain poses are out of your ability range for one reason or another. This fear and unnecessary comparison is toxic. Toxic to your growth and to your overall well-being.
Nothing good ever comes from fear and lack of confidence, that only allows the ego to thrive so negativity can fester in order to control the mind. “Yoga is the journey of the Self through the Self to the Self” and so there should be no fear and no comparison, just growth, expansion, learning, awakening and freedom. Freedom to grow at your own pace, expansion of mind through learning what Yoga gifts us and awakening of your being to be your authentic Self…and all of that can come from the mat because that is what Yoga means….Union of body, mind and spirit to be all that you are meant to be, so don’t be afraid to show up fully.
Yes, it is hard work, yes, it is challenging, just as each asana becomes more advanced for you, so does life in every aspect. Yet as we rise to the challenges, we endure. As we conquer the challenges, we grow, as we process the lessons along the way, we awaken, and if we fall along the way, the mat will be there to catch us….just as a loving friend or partner would do….because we always rise again… and Yoga shows us how. So
E verything….good and bad
And Yoga will meet you there!