Why do I Practice Yoga?
I guess I would have to go back to what was like life before yoga.
Tired all the time. Busting out of my clothes and heading for the next size. My back hurt, my knees hurt. I couldn’t touch my toes. My mind raced. I was filled with anxiety. I worried all the time. I thought I could control just about everything in my world and yet I was pretty sure that all my woes were someone else’s fault. I was waiting for something to happen so I could be happier.
Even as I pen out this list, I think to myself “yikes, really.” But that was me. Asleep, unaware, and on auto-pilot.
Big disclaimer here – before I go much further, let me insert here quite honestly that some of these things are still in my orbit. My kids drive me nuts. I have too many demands for my time and attention. I get frustrated still. Angry. I still cry and get sad. Yoga hasn’t erased my humanness.
But I find that I have the ability to reel it in way faster.
And sure, isn’t it great that I can touch my toes? I never step on a scale, because frankly I just don’t care what it says (really). I beat myself up way less.
You may be thinking, how does sitting yourself in some twist or standing on your head do that? I have spent a lot of time thinking about that. I think there are a few things at play.
From a physical perspective, I believe when we feel healthy on the inside, that this definitely shines through externally. I think that is easy to understand how that might happen. We hear it all the time – healthy body, healthy mind. Second, having a regular practice of spending time with yourself gives you time to just “be”, and this can create a lot of personal growth. For an hour or 90 minutes moving on your mat, it is really just all about you. Even though your teacher may be calling out the class – it is you who holds yourself accountable for the things that happen on your mat. When you start to tune into how you move and the whys of the the things you chose to do or not do on that mat, you start to learn more about who you are, what you are. What drives you, what holds you back. You see what you are capable of, and you create this space where you are okay no matter what circus is clamoring around you.
Lastly and very importantly, I believe yoga is truly not just about a physical practice. Yoga has made me curious and has propelled me into self-study (remember those yamas and niyamas?) I read voraciously and I try to take time to meditate more than just a few minutes of savasana. I try to bring as much stuff into my life as I can to boost positivity, creativity, and growth. That means I surround myself with other people that feel the same way – practicing yoga and owning a yoga studio have naturally drawn like-minded people into my world. The sense of community that being a yogi has given to me is priceless and such a big part of my peace. In a world that seems doomed by senseless violence and indifference, our yogi tribe allows us to feel safe and understood. Together we remind ourselves that we are not all gloomy headlines and statistics. We are real. We matter.
That’s why I practice yoga.