Yoga has become a very advertised lifestyle compared to days past and this is especially due to us millennials and our social media. Something about those cool-looking poses and the sexual stigma associated with yoga has drawn many of us in.
The thing is, it’s so much more than that. It represents almost a religion for many yogis–an escape from a world full of judgment and lack of purpose. And if you think yoga is the hippy of all exercise, you’re absolutely right.
I first found yoga in college, freshman year. One of my friends had an assignment calling for her to attend a university fitness session, so I tagged along. I was going through it with some things back home, and figured I could use a distraction.
I was surprised at how hard it was. I guess I’d expected some meditation and stretching, but I honestly didn’t know much about yoga at all. My friends and I could barely keep up with the instructor. Not mentally prepared for such a challenge, I planned on never coming back once I made it through the session.
However, by the time we were walking out the gym doors I noticed how light I felt–like I was walking on a cloud. I was exhausted but something else had happened and I couldn’t quite pinpoint it.
By Thursday, only two days later, I found myself wanting to go back (even though my friend’s assignment was finished). It wasn’t that I was suddenly happier and all my problems were solved, but something was different.
Six years later, I’ve only just started figuring out exactly what it is about the mystery of yoga that keeps me coming back. This list is a few pieces of the puzzle so far:
- Self-love. This is an obvious one, but the value is priceless. Connecting your mind with your body so closely creates this appreciation and I can’t even explain exactly how in words. You kind of just have to figure it out on your own because the journey is different for everyone.
- Stronger spirituality is a big part of yoga. Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or whatever, each practice can be dedicated to someone or something and that includes your God if you believe in one. It connects you with your body, but also your spirit. Yoga helped me to understand my energy and what brings that energy down, versus what or who brings it up. A lot of the poses focus on being centered (physically AND spiritually). And yes, meditation is a part of most practices. There’s so much that I could go into, but overall yoga is about much more than the physical.
- Thinking with the heart. This is one I learned very recently, and I didn’t really understand it at first. Shavasana, the last restorative pose in our pratice, is when the instructors will read quotes aloud or speak encouraging words of wisdom and this particular one was about quieting your mind, trying to notice when your thoughts were directing your path in life. Just like strengthening our muscles, we should work to strengthen the ability to follow our hearts. Stay true to our life purpose.
The reason I struggled with this is that for a while now I’ve been pretty against emotions altogether. It seems like the most misleading voice to listen to, the heart. But after running through my to-do list and my current life struggles in my head that night, I saw what she meant.
I noticed a lot of my thoughts were just that–thoughts, consisting of fear, doubt, anger, jealousy, impatience, and negativity. So I started focusing on just what my heart wanted, basically all the things I usually tell myself not to believe or get my hopes up about, I did.
There are so many less distractions and worries. When you focus on your heart you stop putting up walls that maybe aren’t for the best like you think they are. Being smart and protective of yourself is okay, but you can’t waste your whole life deciding things off of what you think will fail.
Just like when people tell you that your pain is all in your head during a workout, your mind tells you things that you shouldn’t always listen to. It’s often corroded with the negative energies of this world. The heart is pure. Logic and fact are great contributions, but your passion and fulfillment are the legacies of your life.
Yoga is a journey, so follow it and you’ll slowly figure out the mystery of how it can change your life in a positive way. The learning never stops
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