Do You Even Do Yoga, Bro?
I do it for Shavasana and all that comes with it. I hate running. I hate cardio. I hate weight lifting. But, I love yoga. Yoga has given me the connection to a power greater than myself that I have never experienced before. Through good times and bad, yoga has been my savior, my support, and my saving grace.
When I am out of practice, I find myself restless, exhausted, inflexible, and weak. This filters over in to my day-to-day life yet as soon as I give myself over to the practice on a regular basis I feel serene and comfortable again. The yoga practice is not only about down dogs, sun salutations, strength, and flexibility; it also requires patience, tolerance of others and most importantly- tolerance and love of self.
When most people think about what it means to have strength- physical traits come to mind. Not only physical traits based on appearance but physical traits socially constructed to be positive or negative. For instance, someone with a visible “6-pack” of abs can be just as strong as someone without them.
In yoga, appearance doesn’t correlate with strength. Energy comes from breath that is rooted in one’s core. An important term in yoga is “bandhas”- a term that means the locking of ones body. This contraction produces a type of “inner fire” that is energy or “prana.”
For me, my practice was nothing until I learned about this inner fire. It gave me the energy, the warmth, the patience, and physical strength to feel good in my own skin and comfortable in my own headspace. Because the practice is a form of moving meditation, it is often easy to overlook how much your body is working during the practice. Which is why the final resting pose, Shavasana, is my favorite. I get to soak up my practice and listen to my heart rate go down and appreciate the work I put into bettering my life.
Although this might sound cliché, redundant and in support of the stereotypes that all yogis are hippies, vegans, and monk-like or on the other hand, condescending, in genuine about spirituality or doing it for the lulu lemon and cute outfits, it’s hard to generalize that all people that practice yoga are like this. I mean, stereotypes are stereotypes for reasons but what’s great about yoga is that anyone and everyone, everywhere can find themselves through yoga.
Like with many things, a guide in this practice is important if not crucial to one’s growth in regards to meditation and life. The mentor-mentee relationship, especially in yoga, can be incredibly healing, motivating and rewarding for both parties and often creates just the space necessary for physical, spiritual, and even intellectual growth.
For me, this practice has taken my weaknesses and has let them strengthen each part of my life. It has given me the ability to be content with sitting alone, sleeping alone, and loving alone. If the softening of my entire body and mind by the end of the practice was all I got out of it, I would still go. For me, yoga is a beautiful form of meditation that I never knew existed until I experienced it myself. Now it’s time to find yours!
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