Growth comes from when things are difficult. So I’ve been told.
I started practicing power yoga almost 20 years ago. I remember a teacher early on saying that life is hard, so your practice on the mat should be hard. Wow, immediate attention and connection.
The fact is the lessons on the mat are really life lessons.
How we react to the challenge on the mat is how we ultimately will react to the challenges in life. And miraculously, this very physical practice showed me the way to start being less concerned about the outside, and more concerned about what was going on in the inside. This coming from a very externally physically focused individual.
Power yoga changed my mindset, changed my life.
Over the last two decades I have read many articles, blogs and random comments in news feeds about power yoga. I have found that it is often misunderstood and given a bad rap.
Some of the misconceptions are that its just exercise and there is nothing spiritual about it.
The philosophical part of yoga is taken out. Just turn up the heat, move real fast, throw in lots of arm balances and have a really kick ass playlist. It’s Hot Yoga. (And let me just clarify, I have no qualms with Hot Yoga, but the two are different). And last but not least, it’s not real yoga.
When it comes down to it, if we are on the path of truth, self-discovery, trying to make the world a better place…who are we to judge which path is chosen? The point is, we are on the path. And just because something is challenging on the outside does not mean it is not meaningful on the inside.
So after many years in the making (and procrastination), I sat down to set the record straight. This is what came out. Words from the heart of a yogi, not the mind of a writer……what power yoga is and what it is not…
It is not yoga for fitness.
It is yoga for mindfulness.
It is not about having a perfect body to feed our ego.
It is about maintaining a healthy body to house our soul.
It is not all about working out.
It is everything about working in.
It is not about the pose or even being in the pose.
It is about how we get into the pose and how we react to the pose.
It is not about how the pose looks.
It is about how the pose feels.
It is not about where we go or learning to stand on our own two hands.
It is about how we go and learning to stand on our own two feet.
And sometimes in life, when it’s necessary,
it teaches us how to stand on just one.
It is not about pushing, forcing and muscling through physical challenges.
It is about strengthening the soft and softening the hard through life’s challenges.
Falling. And landing.
Chaos. With calmness.
Options. No conditions.
Slow. Not fast.
Simple. Never easy.
It is not about what gets in the way of our practice.
It is about getting out of our own way when we do.
It is not about running from discomfort.
It is about finding comfortable in uncomfortable.
Not breaking down, but the opportunity to break open.
It is not about listening to the voices of judgment and searching for answers on the outside.
It is about trusting our own silent voice of wisdom only to discover that the answers are already there on the inside.
Picking up the right. Throwing down the wrong.
Stepping on the mat a mess. Stepping off having found bliss.
It is about less drama and more yama.
It is about coming to the mat and practicing sukha and sthira and ahimsa and satya and saucha and santosha……
The focus is the process, rather than goal oriented madness.
Not being where we want to be, but accepting where we are.
Being guided by intention. Not mindless action.
A moving meditation. Not bending with distraction.
Sweating out the stress. Knowing perfection does not exist.
Trusting the breath never steers wrong, and in surrender we will find strong.
It is about thinking less. And being more.
Becoming less self-centered. And more other-centered.
Looking out for ourselves less. Looking into ourselves more.
Practicing there, so that we can take it here…..
On the mat is where it starts. Off is where it begins.
It is not about being a perfect person.
It is about becoming a better human being.
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Apprentice Editor: Marcee Murray King / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Courtesy of Author
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