Yoga changed my life and some think it can save the world. Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi was the first book I read about yoga. Donna writes, “Regardless if you are a beginner or an experienced practitioner, the moment you engage in Yoga practice you will discover that the practice is itself the reward. Peace of mind and freedom from fear are as imminent as your focus.” Focus, peace of mind and freedom from fear – Yoga gave those things to me and much more.
I started practicing Yoga in the Summer of 2006 when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I wanted to keep my body strong and my mind calm and focused so I could effectively fight this disease. “Through the practice of postures we release pent-up tensions that have accumulated in our body, and we further refine our physical senses so that we become sensitive, adaptive, and resilient.” While I am often in search of less, I wanted to be more sensitive, more adaptive and more resilient. Yoga gave me that too.
Perhaps downward facing dog pose is not going to save the world, but the lessons learned on the mat just might.
Lessons I learned on the mat
You can learn with less: You don’t even need a yoga mat to practice yoga. Most studios offer mats for your use and you can practice at home on the floor.
Your body knows: Trust your body to tell you how far to stretch, how deep to breathe and when to go to sleep!
You are stronger than you think: When you feel tired or weak, get on the mat and your body will offer you more than you thought it would.
Give more than you get: Yoga studios and teachers give so much more in terms of resources, instruction, goodwill and energy than you could could pay for with a class fee. Pay that forward by giving back to the world.
Just breathe: Whether you are going deeper into a pose or stuck in traffic, focusing on your breath will help you loosen your muscles and open your heart. It won’t help you enjoy traffic, but it will put things in perspective.
Do less and be more: Donna Farhi writes, “While the practices of Yoga do indeed involve discipline, willpower, determination, and great effort, the experience of Yoga happens spontaneously.” I notice the more I struggle to master a pose or a concept, the further away I get from the intentionality of practicing yoga. When I let go and give in to being in the moment, the magic happens. (on and off the mat)
Change: If a certain pose is painful or uncomfortable, do it differently or do something else. Be willing to change.
How to get started:
The last chapter of Bringing Yoga to Life delivers more good news. “Does Yoga practice make life easier? Most assuredly, all that is onerous and cumbersome does not go away, yet our once implacable desire for certainty wavers in the face of something better: living in awe, wonder, and delight. Life does not become easier; we become easier with life just as it is, without conclusions, fail-safe securities, or the promise of happily-ever after endings.” Yoga has done so much for so many. You sleep better, move better, act with a kind heart, have achieved inner calm and with your focus and intentions on and off the mat, you really are saving the world.