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I wanted to share with you a blog post I wrote a few years ago titled, "Why Yoga?" We are living in a time when there is a lot of hate and violence, but there remains a lot of love.
Question: How do we improve the world? Answer: By improving ourselves to start.
The purpose of stepping onto your yoga mat is to feel good. Yes, there is also the mind-body challenge, but ultimately the hope is that when you roll up your mat after practice – you feel better. It’s really that simple.
You leave your mat feeling better, lighter, and happier. Your practice puts those heavy perceived challenges in life into perspective because for 75-minutes of your day (or however long your practice might be), you can’t think of them; you are focused on much more important things - like how to balance on one foot or float from down dog to crow. You know you can get through whatever it is you are going through because you just held a handstand for 60-bleeping-seconds!
How often is it possible to completely clear your head of the frenzy of thoughts, to-do-lists, and worries that generally take over your mind? Well, if you are breathing deeply, in the moment, in a handstand, I assure you – your to-do-list will be waiting for you when you are done. There will be no space to be running through errands or planning dinner while balancing on your hands or head upside down.
This is why, initially, the postures are so important. You learn the alignment and breath in the postures, so that you can arrive to the place where thoughts and
worries are no longer holding center stage. Only after the postures are learned and this space and freedom in the mind is felt, can you find the space, calm, and focus to surrender in savasana or find a seated mediation. In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (basic principles and teachings of yoga compiled around 2,000 years ago), the purpose of the asanas (postures) is to make the body fit and prepared to take a seat (meditation). And this is how it works for me. My mind is always on and running, and my way of slowing it down is through connecting to my physical body and thus also the subtle body. By connecting to my body, I am able to connect within myself on a deeper level. Until eventually, after consistent and deligent practice, you might not need to move through the body to connect with the mind and the subtle body.
In essence, your yoga makes you feel strong, whole, beautiful, and full of love, from the inside out. Starting from wherever you are today, you know that in one week’s time, however small the progress might be that it is there. Breath by breath, posture by posture, you are healing, growing, and nurturing your entire body, mind, and soul.
All at once, you face head on your toughest critic and your biggest advocate - you. And as the weeks pass, you really do begin to feel lighter. You walk with a little more pep in your step. You stand a little taller. You begin to see more love around you and feel even more love within you. Your practice transforms your life. Your practice becomes more about nurturing your trust in love, kindness, and acceptance. Your practice builds trust from within. And as months pass, you begin to realize, to know, from the bottom of your heart, that you yourself are a gift. No one else in this world is exactly like you, and for this reason alone - find a smile and run with it.
Enjoy your next practice, because you can!