In this day and age, almost everyone has been told “they need yoga” for one reason or another. Maybe it’s because your muscles are so tight you can barely bend over to tie your shoes. Maybe you’re in a constant state of frantic, and it’s been suggested that yoga would reduce stress levels. Maybe your doctor has suggested yoga as a path to help arthritis, heart problems, IBS type symptoms or some other medical condition. Or perhaps it’s been suggested for pain management, like relief from lower back or some other joint pain. I’ve asked around and heard all of these reasons and more (with the most amusing being the desire to develop “yoga butt”). Whatever the reason yoga has come to you in the form of suggestion, you probably have (or had) some resistance to adding something new to your already full days.
I get it. For years I acknowledged the benefit, but I didn’t know what I was doing and the thought of committing time was killing me. It was killing me because I hadn’t fully bought in and let yoga do what yoga does. I didn’t have enough respect for the practice to muster up the courage to learn and to dedicate an hour of my precious time to doing so.
[BTW, my biggest resistance happened to be time. The other common resistance is the courage to try something new. If this is you, I suggest you start with gentle and slow flow classes and be easy on yourself. You will still find varying skill levels in every class, but every body is different and yoga is about honoring your body, so judgment and comparison are discouraged and personal exploration is embraced and supported. As you read on, I invite you to drink in the concept of yoga being a “practice”.]
What changed for me? Like many things, what starts with discipline often changes to desire.
About 2 years ago, after completing a half marathon and 15k , I noticed that I just couldn’t loosen up, no matter how much stretching, Epsom salt baths, supplements or other efforts I put in. So I decided I was going to take two months “off” and do nothing physical except yoga and walking. I had some doubts I could restrain myself, but I was determined. (Why I personally chose DISCIPLINE)
The most surprising things that came out of my two month experiment with walking and yoga was that a) it made me happy and b) I didn’t gain a single pound, nor did my appearance/tone diminish. I was engaging in nourishing activity that I enjoyed – kinder, gentler exercise – and life felt more peaceful. (from DISCIPLINE to DESIRE)
As luck would have it, that desire proved to be very helpful, because shortly after, I was diagnosed to be in “hormonal chaos”. Still running wild with my family and overloading the schedule, decades of this in the rear view mirror, and cortisol off the charts, the doctor prescribed that I take serious measures to change my lifestyle. “You should try yoga”, she said. Yep. That’s how the journey goes. The unfolding. And so I continued the yoga, but with a much more open set of eyes. And I learned to take it slow. And I came to love the classes that focused on a handful of poses instead of racing through forty or fifty. And I learned to let go of competition, comparison and getting the poses perfect. And I learned to use my breath to provide both power and release, and to enjoy the meditative aspects of yoga. I learned to stay and enjoy “final relaxation”! And to embrace that a yoga practice offers many gifts.
As I more fully engaged in my practice, the logical gift came in the form of spiritual connection. The more I noticed the beautiful “space” that yoga was creating for me – a less busy mind, a quietness, a space to receive and be nurtured – the more I yearned for yoga to be not only a physical practice, but a spiritual one as well. I yearned to not only have my body and mind fed, but my soul too. And what better time to hear the beautiful, comforting words of God than when you are physically and mentally prepared to receive? A true invitation to fully surrender and let go came for me in the form of Holy Yoga, which I am so excited to bring to our community.
You may relate to the reasons that drove me to embrace yoga or you may have completely different reasons that yoga may be beneficial to you. Either way, the invitation is the same. Whatever your reason and wherever you are in your relationship with yoga, I urge you to explore it, for it is a “practice”. There is nothing to conquer, no destination to arrive. It’s more like a treasure hunt. Let it be your own unfolding, what ever that means to your body, mind and soul. And if you do, I can almost guarantee a collection of gems along the way.