I took my first step onto the mat to learn how to let go of tension before it turned into an ulcer, as my lifestyle at that time was very fast-paced and stressful. Little did I know that in taking my first step on the mat, I would not only learn how to tune into my breath and strengthen my body, I would learn that I had the power to transform my life by gaining a clearer understanding of the mind-body connection.
I like to look at my yoga mat as a magic carpet. If I’m living in my head too much, it can be my teacher, providing me with an education of the heart and the soul. If my inspiration is lagging, it is my meditation mat, giving me permission to just be and let the noise and distractions melt away. If my body is feeling tired or not challenged enough, I can choose from a variety of poses and styles of yoga to obtain the awakening my body desires.
As a student of yoga, the central lesson I’m constantly learning is this: Everything is going to be all right. It doesn’t matter how many times I get my right and left mixed up, or if I breathe too loudly, or if I fall asleep in Savasana. The reason I still go to my mat day after day, week after week, is the knowledge that everything is going to be all right, and I always come away with an additional lesson or two. If my left and right sides are mixed up, I’m not focusing and being present. If I’m breathing too loudly, it’s because I’ve been under stress and holding my breath too much in my life off of the mat. If I fall asleep … well, that means I finally found a quiet place within.
The ancient yogis practiced asanas to prepare their bodies for long periods of meditation. They didn’t practice to master a certain pose or to get a workout. Their intention was to go within and tune into their source — one of the main benefits of a consistent yoga practice. However, the asanas themselves are truly amazing. Each pose not only has the ability to open up a certain muscle area, but also our internal organs. For example, when doing twists, we detoxify our bodies, releasing impurities in our liver and kidneys and creating a more balanced body, inside and out.
Yoga is a practice. A practice in tuning into our bodies, minds and spirits for the fulfillment of a healthier, more peaceful life. Yoga is a practice that requires commitment without the need for perfection. By stepping on the mat day after day, week after week, we affirm our commitment to obtaining the benefits of a regular yoga practice, transforming our lives and gaining a clearer understanding of ourselves.
What’s your yoga story?