I recently had a request for a private yoga lesson from someone who wanted to “make sure they were doing yoga right”. Another person informed me that they were not interested in yoga because they were “not flexible enough to do the postures”. These two examples reminded me that people often come to yoga with the idea they will do postures on the mat, stretch their body and get a workout. Though this is true, Yoga can be so more than the physical postures. The word yoga means union – the integration of the body, mind and spirit.
We often come to yoga to practice postures and we quickly discover there is so much more to this “practice”. When I started my practice of yoga I found myself looking around the room so confused about what to do and how to do it. I, too, wanted to ‘do it right’. I persevered and continued to return to the class because of the inner knowing that this was something that would be good for my life and it helped me relax. At the time, more than 10 years ago, I was extremely stressed because of a family situation. I did not imagine yoga would become a part of my daily life, on and off the mat.
Every day we can practice yoga, even if we cannot make it to class. We can practice yoga off the mat by being present and bringing awareness to our thoughts – that is yoga. When we find joy in stories or interactions during our day – that is yoga. When we struggle and linger with discomfort – that is yoga. Practicing yoga, on and off the mat, takes, well …. practice!
Yes, a consistent physical yoga practice will help to reduce stress, increase core strength and flexibility, and improve physical balance. When we move to awareness of our thoughts more regularly and take responsibility to be with our feelings, rather than bury what wants to rise up, we will be more in tune with our soul, our spirit. And by doing so, we create the possibility to live the life we always imagined.