Yoga will change your body, and it will also change your life.
This could seem like a bold statement for those who have never experienced yoga beyond the physical element. So often when I mention that I teach yoga, people respond, “Oh I’m terrible at yoga! I can’t touch my toes!” I smile and let them know that yoga is so much more than stretching, but I usually get a confused look in return.
I laugh at the thought that I would have based my whole life and career as a yoga teacher around just getting people to touch their toes. Yoga is not that boring. Like many others, I began yoga for physical reasons, but quickly learned that the true practice could transform me from the inside out. Regardless of what initially brings us to yoga, the reasons that we keep returning to our mats are far more awesome.
1. Yoga teaches us how to stand.
One of the very first poses you learn in yoga, Tadasana, or mountain pose, literally and symbolically teaches you how to stand on your own two feet. When you take mountain pose, you do more than just stand with your arms stretched above your head. You embody the magnificence of a mountain. You feel and become grand, rooted, and strong, with the earth as your foundation. In your physical practice of postures, you learn to stand in an engaged and balanced way.
Symbolically, you learn to stand firm in your beliefs, so that external forces cannot easily shake you. This practice of cultivating balance in our physical bodies teaches us how to sustain balance in our daily lives.
2. Yoga makes us more aware.
Often we see things, but don’t notice them. Through the practice of asana (posture), and pranayama (breath control), you begin to notice things about yourself that you might not normally be aware of. The more you practice yoga the more you know yourself. We not only learn how to place our feet and hands, but we learn how to place our minds and hearts in alignment with our true nature. One of my students recently told me that she was always comparing herself to others in yoga, and on this particular day she realized that she had the same tendency in her everyday life. Once she became aware of her pattern, she was able to start changing it and living more authentically. In a similar way, as we practice postures and deep breathing regularly, we may notice our tendencies to rush, force, judge or become impatient.
Our yoga mats become a place to practice overcoming patterns, relinquishing useless thoughts, and slaying inner dragons. Little by little, we begin to notice more, and so begins the journey of becoming fully conscious.
3. Yoga helps us spread our light to others.
It is hard to resist the light and wisdom that arises from tuning inward. You come back to yoga again and again to align with the light within and around you, and to know yourself in a greater way. As we nurture our relationship with ourselves, we nurture our relationships with others. The more conscious we become, the less we ignore.
We stop using the excuse that that’s just the way things are, and begin to realize that we hold the power to change more than ourselves. We create a ripple, and then a wave. The more we tune inward, the more we can expand outward and create positive change.
We stretch our bodies and become more limber through yoga practice, but more so we stretch our awareness, minds and hearts.
Prepared & edited by: Tanya L. Markul
Jackie Casal is a yoga teacher and massage therapist in the Denver Area. Through her teaching and writing, she hopes to inspire as many as she can to live with grace, joy and gratitude. Read more about Jackie on her blog.
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