I was inspired by a recent commenter to discuss how yoga connects to the rest of my life. I cover a variety of different topics on this blog, some of which might appear to have anything to do with yoga. They do! Yoga is a lifestyle!
Yoga for Physical Health
First of all, yoga is asanas. Movement. Movement that strengthens your arms and legs. Contortions that stretch those powerful muscles. Inversion poses that circulate your blood through your veins. Twists wring out your organs and stimulate digestion. Back bends unfold every vertebrae along your spine. Movement means exercise, exertion. It means curing your back pains, toning your muscles, taking care of yourself. Yoga poses or asanas can be done at every stage of your life and will support every physical health goal. But movement is only the first step. Yoga is so much more!
Yoga for Mental Health
Just breathe! Simply inhale the word “let” and exhale the word “go” and feel all your troubles melt away. Listen to your breathing, do what the teacher is instructing, and forget to worry about whatever it was that was plaguing you before. Yoga eases anxiety, removes depression, and let’s you be you. Once you’ve made it to the mat, the hardest work is over! Let the teacher take it from here and realize that you are in good hands. There is nothing more for you to do than listen to his voice and take rest whenever needed. Ignore the girl doing push-ups in between chaturangas. Distance yourself from the guy doing Cirque Du Soleil. This moment is for you and you can do whatever you want with it. This is where peace comes from. If you don’t believe that yoga can transcend you mental health, then you haven’t given it a chance. Relax! Yoga can do the impossible and bring you to balance.
People have brought every possible excuse to the door: I have chronic depression, its hereditary, there’s no hope. I’m too deep in my grief. No one can help me! I’ve lived with this pain my whole life, it’s not going anywhere! Yoga tells you to leave those excuses behind and come sit on your mat. It tells the wounded they will heal, the struggling that we’ve been there. Sometimes going through the motions is the first step towards a whole new you that is just waiting to unfold.
Yoga as Prayer
Most of all, yoga is prayer. The bliss, the revival, the peace you feel after class isn’t an accident. It’s the answer to a prayer! Sometimes you may not recognize it. You associate prayer as being with the mind and forget that prayer can be done with the body. Sometimes the best thing you can do to get close to God is to relax in Him and let your body do the talking. It doesn’t have to take such an immense effort. Just be, be with God. Go through the motions. That strengthening you just did? That’s God taking care of you. The joy you feel as you stretch your hands to the heavens? Worship. Those balancing poses? They are there to humble or strengthen you. The rest you feel as you bow in child’s pose? Surrender. That peaceful feeling? The holy spirit is sitting with you. Don’t think, just be. Let your body do the praying. The ground will hold you, the spirit will move you. Let God answer your prayers and enjoy the calm that settles in your soul.
Yoga as Lifestyle
How can something that affects all aspects of your body, mind, and soul not affect your life as well? Yoga meets me every day whether I am at the studio or sitting at my desk. When my back and legs start to strain from sitting at work, I know to head for the copy room and stretch it out. When anxiety is begging for my attention, I’ve practiced letting that go before! Just breathe. Every movement, emotion, or sensation that I can feel, I have practiced. Letting go in yoga is practice for letting go in life. Reaching toward the sky and bowing down is showing me how to worship and surrender. Every step of my day from loving, laughing, playing, working, and enjoying, is something I experience both in yoga and in life. Learning yoga has been and continues to be one of my favorite things in life!! So yeah, yoga is a lifestyle. It’s the lifestyle I want to live everyday!
Hope you have a beautiful week!
I was once at a seminar about accomplishing your goals. The instructor made a point that really stuck with me and I have found that it relates to almost every aspect of my life. It was when the Olympics was going on and Michael Phelps emerged with an astounding number of medals. Why? Because he chose to. He made a million tiny decisions that got him to that milestone. And we do the same thing everyday.
Everyday Michael had a decision to make. His friends were going out, his family taking a vacation, but he always had the choice: Do this, or swim? And more often than not, he chose to swim. He did this because he had a goal- to win a gold medal in the Olympics in swimming. It was his passion and his livelihood.
I’ve also heard similar mantras in yoga. If you want to get better at yoga- go to yoga! Even if your heart isn’t entirely in it. Doing something can bring it back again. If you want to learn how to do a hand stand. Try doing it!
I have found this to be true with just about anything, once you start doing it, you start living it and loving it! So no matter what I’m working on or want to accomplish, I know the answer already: Just do it!
- If you want to be more social- say yes to every outing!
- If you want to be a faster runner- start running!
- If you want to be a public speaker- start speaking openly!
- If you want to be loved- love!
- If you want to be better at prayer- pray!
Right now, I’m honing in on my new years resolutions and I already feel major changes happening in my life. One of my first ones- was that I wanted to dig into my yoga practice this year. Last year I let my practice slip and only went one or two times a month. But since the start of January, I have gone twice a week (Thank you SO MUCH Red Dragon for opening a power yoga studio in San Rafael! It’s changed my life!)
At first it was hard to lug myself to class, I’m not sure why! But now I feel like a regular and am soaking it all up! I’ve even gone up into my first ever unsupported handstand! (For only about 6 seconds- but it was major exciting for me!) I now remember why yoga is one of my favorite things to do- it covers all the bases! (Kicks your booty, revive’s your mind, makes you feel like you just got back from vacation, good for the soul, makes you happy!)
It’s up to you how to live your life. You have the decision every day to live the way you want to and to turn your hopes and dreams into actions. So do it!Read More