We all practice yoga for different reasons.
Some of us practice to get healthier, while some of us practice to look good. Many of us practice to relieve stress and rejuvenate our minds and body. There are a few of us who practice for spiritual reasons.
Here is a life revealing question: have you ever thought what yoga wants from you?
Neither did I until I was asked this question by my yoga/spiritual teacher. I didn’t have an answer and so I began to search for the deeper meaning of yoga.
When I first began to practice yoga, I did it purely for health reasons as I was suffering from extreme anxiety. As time went on, I noticed my body was changing and becoming healthier and stronger. I continued doing yoga to maintain this new body.
The years went on and I got married, had my first child and everything changed. I became stressed again because motherhood was so new to me. As a result, my yoga practice changed again as well. I added a daily practice of meditation and pranayama along with asana.
Yoga allowed me to become more peaceful, quiet and calm. Yoga was also giving me energy and space to create more abundance in all areas of my life.
Yoga was giving me all these wonderful things without conditions, but it seemed to be a one-way exchange. It was a one-sided relationship until I was asked the penetrating question “what does yoga want from you?”.
I had to look at this question in terms of my relationship with yoga. We know that no relationship is ever one-sided—there should always be an equality in the exchange of giving and receiving. I noticed that up to this point all I had been doing was taking from yoga, whether it was the strong, healthy body or mental peace and well-being; all these things were just self-serving.
Knowing that yoga has never failed me, it was my turn to return the love. I came up with a list of eight gifts that I could give back to yoga that would ultimately be beneficial to everyone, as yoga is about creating oneness and unity.
Here they are:
1. Be humble.
Listen more to the needs of others. Give someone else the spotlight rather than wanting to be the center of attention. Remember these words: “Wherever I go – Ego.”
2. Be friends to all.
Treat everyone with mutual respect and kindness as if they are our good friends. Expand our communities by including others and giving them the opportunities to express their ideas and creations.
3. Be non-competitive.
Cultivate happiness for the success and well-being of others. Have fun accelerating in what we do and don’t always feel the need to look over our shoulders. Dedicate and offer all of our work to the Divine.
4. Be non-judgmental.
Encourage everyone’s uniqueness and talents. We all have something unique and precious to offer to the world, so see the beauty of others and their creations.
5. Be selfless in your service.
Enjoy giving to to others without expectation and recognition. Whenever we are pleasing ourselves, we should ask “Is this causing others to suffer?” Find ways to give and be more compassionate to others.
6. Be forgiving.
Allow others to make mistakes and don’t condemn them when they do.Learn to shake off the mistakes and smile or even laugh with them. This includes our own mistakes.
7. Be accepting of ourselves.
Remember to fully accept the nature of ourselves—both the healthy and unhealthy habits that make up our personality. Then, without condemning our unhealthy habits, learn to cultivate those that are positive and bring happiness to ourselves and others.
8. Be full of will.
This is probably the most important one because we need to have an intention and a will to change and evolve as human beings. Listen to the voice of our higher selves and don’t abuse the use of our senses. In fact, this is what yoga is really about. Don’t allow the ego to make excuses to indulge in activities that we know are detrimental to our bodies and minds. A true yogi or yogini embodies self-control, will and discipline.
So now the big question is, what does yoga want from you?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Karissa Kneeland / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives