Life Lessons From Yoga – Introduction
I am dedicating the month of August to all the life philosophies I have learned from yoga. I began practicing for fitness more than anything when I moved to Houston around 2005. Since that time, my appreciation and understanding of yoga has grown considerably and I’m to the point I would like to share many of the wonderful things the practice has taught me about how to live.
Like most people, I started yoga for the physical health benefits and, for that reason, I expected it to have only physical results. What I didn’t realize is how profound of an effect yoga would have on my emotional and mental health as well. It ushered forth realizations and helped me learn to be strong, tenacious and confident when those realizations brought me stress, pain, anxiety, or healthy fear.
I also didn’t realize that yoga is a way to develop spiritually. The asanas, or poses, subtly affect the body and allow transformations to occur, new ways of seeing things and growing.
Yoga does definitely have a physical component, but I think a lot of people think the physical aspects just means an ability to stretch and bend. Strength and balance are just as important as flexibility in yoga. But you don’t need to already possess these things to reap the benefits of yoga. In fact, if you aren’t flexible or strong, these are the main reasons you should be doing yoga.
I was drawn to yoga from a young age and I remember checking books out of the library when I was 12 years old and practicing them after the kids I was babysitting had gone to sleep. Perhaps my love of gymnastics when I was young allowed me to appreciate the amazing ways the body could be manipulated with enough time, focus and dedication and how the mind can’t help but follow.
I once worked with a guy that had a theory that every person had one particular thing in life that they were attracted to. His was the air through his hair and he sought this by driving a convertible, or being out on a boat or a motorcycle. I thought about that and I realized that the one thing I was always seeking was a peaceful and meditative bliss, a quiet mind where things from the deep could bubble upward. I discovered that one of the easiest ways for me to find that state I craved was to put my body through a rigorous physical ordeal, to essentially summon a trance. It explains why I quit sports like basketball and could never get in to things like bootcamp fitness classes or anything else that involves someone hollering at me! Working out or doing yoga is my time to release my thoughts, to put my body in to a flow while my mind clears and churns up solutions.
A lot of these lessons I am learning by practicing yoga have helped me lead a richer, fuller life.