June 18, 2013

Why We Practice.

Don’t get hung up on what your body looks like—focus on what your body can do!

I was born with scoliosis, and after a car accident in my teens my back was nothing short of a mess. I was in serious pain every day for years, and when I started practicing yoga it was nothing about the asana.

I fell in love with the space you create on the mat, with breath work, with meditation—it wasn’t until three years ago or so that I got serious about the physical aspect of yoga as well.

Everything was painful, and I had such a fear of backbending that even the thought of Wheel Pose made me shiver. So all of you that think some people just happen to be blessed with a strong practice and that it’s not for you…think again.

I had never done a handstand in my life two years ago. Ever!

The strength I have on the mat and the space I’ve created in my body is a result of a lot of hard work, but mostly…a lot of letting go. We hold so much emotion in the body. Practicing yoga is releasing—that’s why it’s so difficult! Not because we move in different ways or inhale to lift this and exhale to lower that.

It’s scratching at the surface of what you don’t want to see; it’s unveiling all the fears and judgments you have about yourself buried deep inside. It’s connecting to what’s really true.

And yes, along the way we might pick up some strength and flexibility and handstands and backbends and arm balances—this is a bonus. It’s not why we keep returning to the mat, every damn day. It’s not the purpose of this practice.

As I move deeper and deeper into backbends, I move deeper and deeper into self-love. As I build strength to balance steadily on my hands, I build strength to face whatever the world throws at me. As I release tension from the hips, shoulders, hamstrings, I release fear, frustration, sadness. Little by little…I release the need to control.

As I learn to surrender on the mat, I learn to surrender to the present moment.

This is the practice.

It’s accessible to you, to everyone, right here, right now—but you have to do the work. No one is going to do it for you.

Don’t hold back.

Today is a beautiful day for a new beginning.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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Kai Aug 14, 2013 10:50am

I love this! Thank you!

Joie Jun 19, 2013 8:55pm

What a gorgeous way on putting the feelings, emotions, sensations and experience into words! Thanks for sharing! Love it!

pranalisa Jun 19, 2013 5:42am

i LOVE the message from the article:
"Don’t get hung up on what your body looks like—focus on what your body can do!"

next step towards progress: at least include non-willowy practitioners' photos instead of only one willowy, yogi…representing at least a couple or more types of yogis…other colors, shapes, ages, etc.

Don't get me wrong…I love my body…for what it can do AND (FINALLY) what it looks like too..however, yoga helps me to accept myself on all levels, even when I am feeling "off" in some way and the inner-critic voice becomes louder…(and yes that happened to me just YESTERDAY! difference? it was fleeting and not something I dwelled upon)

I loved this article and shared it to my facebook pages.

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Rachel Brathen

Rachel Brathen is a yogi on a world tour. Born and raised in Sweden, she currently resides in the beautiful island of Aruba where she is busy teaching yoga at a resort in the mornings, coordinating retreats at noon, taking her three somewhat crazy dogs to the beach to keep up with the surf in the afternoon and trying to survive as a vegan (where no vegetables grow!) in the evenings. She firmly believes that life is not black or white – it’s black and white and blue and yellow with rays of pink and sparkle in between. You can teach yoga and still be a party animal. Meditate and ignore your spending problems. Be vegan and eat too much chocolate. Have a Swedish passport and live in the Caribbean. You can do anything, as long as it’s you! You can find Rachel on the beach, probably practicing her Astavakrasana, or on facebook.com/rachelsyoga.