I started getting more interested in yoga when I was given a ‘no go’ on the working out from doctors during my recovery. But little did I realize how hard yoga and meditation actually was. I thought I would just chill there and sit, thinking about my day, and that would be that. HA! It most definitely takes time and dedication to become comfortable with your practice. I only realized this once I became comfortable with being uncomfortable in my practice; that is, until I truly began to feel what yoga and meditation were actually doing to me.
I know that when I started doing yoga, I was really intimidated by all of the complexity of it. I didn’t know the names of the poses or what a ‘mantra’ was – hell, half of the truly serious yoga stuff isn’t even in English! But with more and more people getting on the yoga boat, you know that there HAS to be something behind this.
Yoga is like any practice: The more you do, the more you get into it. Anyone who has benefited from yoga physically, I would highly suggest you consider looking into some of the history of the practice, and consider some of the spiritual benefits you may already be experiencing! I truly believe that yoga has helped shape a large part of my spiritual beliefs, and I use yoga as a key form of my spiritual practice. This is a far cry from what started as my [reluctant] only form of exercise.
Mind, Body, and Spirit
Yoga treats all of these things as a unified whole: never separating them. It teaches the value of recognizing and accepting your current situation through learning to simply be present. When we are present, we can tune completely into ourselves, which helps lead to greater self-awareness.
The close relationship we create with ourselves in this moment helps us to make peace with the present by overcoming the need to judge, fear, avoid, ignore, or repress our feeling or emotions; but to instead have a chance to sit sit with them, or even work through them. To recognize our emotions as fleeting, and remember that they do not ever last forever.
By helping to establish a stronger connection between your mind and body, your mind begins to question, wonder, and see things about your body it may have previously overlooked. It allows for us to mentally take inventory of our bodies by asking: How do I feel in the present moment? What things is my body capable of? Do I feel strong or weak at the moment? What can I do to remedy anything aching in my body at this moment?
Both meditation and yoga focus largely on the regulation of your breath, which is why I feel like I really can’t talk about one without talking about the other! Meditation is a part of yoga! At the beginning of any (good) yoga class, you will start out with focusing on your breath. Breathing exercises, and cultivating your breath have so many wonderful benefits. Primarily, they trigger your relaxation response. This response is one your body makes when it becomes calmed, leading to a slower heart rate, a faster metabolism, an increased release of the neurotransmitter serotonin (which is linked to reducing depression), releasing toxins from your lungs, stimulating the pituitary gland (believed to sharpen intuition), energizing and increasing vitality, and regulating pH balance (which helps with stress management).
By focusing on the benefits of what your breath can do, it is easy to see concrete reasons why yoga is amazing!
But, yoga can be explained through many perspectives…
My Spiritual Journey
I can only control what is happening now, and that there is no reason to be caught up in the past, or fixate on the future.
I can tune beneath the surface of my thoughts by engaging in my present.
I am anchored in my location, and am precisely where I need to me at this exact moment.
I know I am harmonious with my environment, am connected to every person, animal, and existing thing through the presence of the universe’s bond.
I can unplug from my reality of a technological world to see what the universe is presenting me in the current moment.
I can let go of self-limiting thought patterns, and empower myself to live without inhibition and greet each opportunity as it presents itself, with a clear and open mindset.
I can see past artificial identities of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation.
I can confront challenges with awareness and self-love in order to build self-confidence and sense of self-worth, working to create a space for positivity and peace in my life.
I can be mindful not to rush or force my practice, as it shows to teach me not to rush or force things in my life. That things will happen at the speed in which the universe intends for them to, helping me to alleviate the need to strive for something better.
The beginning is the end. My practice starts and ends today, in this moment. I am rooted in my present practice, and trust that I am always growing.
It is important to honor the roots of yoga. It is equally crucial to celebrate the blossoming of the general practice that would have surprised practitioners of the past.
However, Yoga Day is not meant to make you feel forced into learning the origins or to completely change your practice. Remember that your practice is just that – YOURS! Instead, the intent is to spread the testimonies of the benefits of yoga as it can help you to personally achieve your goals of well-being, but also works to improve well-being on a societal and global level as well. To recognize that yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well-being. That it recognizes also that wider dissemination of information about the benefits of practicing yoga would be beneficial for the health of the world population ~ thus, June 21st is declared International Day of Yoga!
If you are looking to delve into some more deeper, spiritual aspects of yoga, start of with just one topic, and learn what you can about that. For example – sutras! The Patanjali Yoga Sutras have a ton of different translated versions. You can get one that looks like a legitimate college text book, or one that looks boring but like it would definitely step up your yogi-ness.
As for me, I’ve been at work all day – and despite loving adding photos to every blog post, figured actually getting the blog post out on actual Yoga Day was better than incorporating a ton of pics. Maybe Ill Insta a pic or two later for my practice on #NationalYogaDay
How are you celebrating?!