Friday, July 15, 2016

Why I do yoga

I started practicing yoga when I was about 19 years old. Someone gave me a pilates and yoga for beginners DVD. I did it, and liked it. I got this "Yoga Self Taught" book that I have since lost when moving or something. When I started reading it, I realized that I didn't know how to breathe at all and that the body has an amazing ability to heal and balance itself. Throughout my high school life, I was paralyzed with anxiety and self doubt. Painfully insecure and filled with self loathing. I was afraid to speak up about anything or be seen. When I first tried yoga, I had begun a transformation into a more confident and outgoing person by that point and I know yoga helped me shift to where I am now.

Where I am now-ish 

I went to some classes at a gym, at some local studios, got some more DVDs. I went to a class at a friend's house taught by another friend, Living Room Kundalini. It was amazing. I felt clearer in my mind and my body. I practiced on and off for years. I read some about the 8 limbs, and worked on breathing. I used the breathing knowledge I learned in yoga to cope with anxiety and soothe my social angst. I also did traditional counseling and wrote piles of journals. There have been years when I slacked off and didn't practice the asanas. But I always carried with me some of the lessons I learned from doing yoga. Not judging myself too harshly was one of them. One of the biggest lessons was learning to focus on the process of doing something rather than the outcome. I heard it over and over from teachers, it's not about whether or not you can do a headstand, it's about the fact that you showed up and tried. To me, this is one of the most valuable lessons that yoga offers us. I practice asana pretty regularly now. I'm still not one of those svelte super strong pop up into an handstand kind of yoginis. But that's not the point of practicing yoga. If you can do super hard arm balances that's awesome. If you aren't quite there yet, that's awesome too because you are practicing and trying and working on being stronger in your mind and body. That's amazing.

The philosophy of Yoga is rooted in the Yoga Sutras which is an outline for living in a healthy and spiritual manner. In chapter 2, the first aphorism is translated as "Austerity, study, and the dedication of the fruits of one's work to God: these are the preliminary steps towards yoga."
To me, this means focusing on the process and the acts of devotion and not on the outcome. If I practice yoga focused on the outcome of doing an arm balance, then I am missing all the benefit that comes from that work such as the opportunity to practice breathing while working hard, being accepting of my body and abilities in the present, learning alignment and muscle control. I miss the benefit of feeling my body and being in the present moment if I am focused on when am I going to be able to get my legs up. Instead of seeing the process that I have made, my ego is disappointed because I didn't do the pose I wanted to do. But there was still benefit in the process of trying!

I do feel more confident in my body and my strength, I know I am strong. I know that I am connected to my spirit and the universe. I hope that through starting to practice yoga with me, that you also start to feel that way. That you are able to find a few moments of a quiet mind and strong body in every class and eventually find those moments every day.

Don't forget: I have a 6 week Yoga series starting at No. 3 Railroad Street in Arnoldsville. For more info, check out the website. Or schedule a private session!

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