Friday, February 17, 2012

Why Do you practice yoga?

"Yoga is a powerful vehicle for change. As yuo build strength, you start to believe in your own potential". Tiffany Cruikshank

I have often been asked why I like yoga and why I practice. Truthfully, I came to yoga because it seemed like another fun class to take and explore. I didn't know anything about it's philosophy or about the mental benefits. I figured it was another way to "get in shape". Even when I decided to go through teacher training and start teaching yoga, it was just another class for me. Many people come to yoga for many different reasons..back aches, tight muscles, muscular imbalances, hoping to increase athletic performance, desiring a lean body...the list can go on and on. Does it matter? Do you need to understand what yoga is from a philosophical perspective to truly experince yoga? If you are just interested in the physical aspects is it really yoga?

Recently, I have been intreiged with handstand. It is a pose I have never really done and it is plain scary. I decided that for a month straight or as long as it took. I would attempy atleast 3 handstands a day. I would pull my mat up to a wall and go for it. Maybe I would use the wall each time or maybe one day I would kick up and the wall would be as if it were imaginary because I would not need it. Well, the other day I kicked up and stuck it...the wall was there to catch me but for the 2 seconds or so that I held the pose I felt joy like no other. I did it! I actually held the pose. I felt the accomplishment of achieving something that I really worked for and even if the results were fleeting..I could feel hope that one day it may happen for 10 seconds then 15 seconds and so on. It hit me that yoga was teaching me patience, perserverence, and trust in the process. It is easy to give up, it is easy to try something and fear failure. It is exciting and joyful and satisfying to work and try and give something your all and to one day get a glipmse of feeling it happen.

So, my opinion about why yoga? It will teach you to try and to see what happens when you do. It will force you to face your fears and see how you react. It will force you to test your limits. It will force you to see who you are when things get well, uncomfortable. Yoga will test each part of you. Each time you come to your mat you are different. Some days you are unstoppable,and intense and other days you are tired and hopeless. And each time you come your mat and face who you are at the moment and press on you become stronger. Not that each class is pleasant and easy. Some days I come to my mat and I am frustrated with what I cannot do, but then I can truly understand how I react in that feeling. Do I give up or do I come back the next day and say "let's try again". Do I accept where I am each day with compassion or do I ridicule myself for not being perfectly balanced?
Each day that I come back to mat I am stronger and I am changing myself. It is through this constant process of examination, submission, and acceptance that I become better aquainted with who I truly am.

Does it matter what brings you to the mat? I say no, it just matters who you are when you leave.

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