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!Read More