I have been asked many times what it is about Yoga that I like. So often people will tell me that they want to like yoga, but they really don't. I have been thinking a lot about this the last few weeks wondering what exactly I do like about yoga.
A few years ago I turned to yoga in desperation. I was living in pain. The pain was new and while we were bouncing around from doctor to doctor and from medicine to medicine I had to live my life as a student, employee, and wife. I had heard about the success some people have with yoga, so I decided to try it. I started small. I got a DVD with a little morning and evening routine on it. I can't tell you how difficult it was at first, but after 2 weeks of doing it I was stronger, more flexible, and hurting less than I had been in a long time.
I was fascinated by yoga. The whole idea of it was interesting to me, so I finally looked up a yoga studio and began attending classes. It wasn't long after that when I began my teacher training. I wanted to learn as much as I could. For several weeks I would do yoga for at least 5 hours a day. I studied it and trained. I taught and learned. I found all of it fascinating. Those were some of my happiest days in a learning environment, out of all my schooling.
The most exciting part was they way the yoga made me feel. Doing yoga was the only thing that took away the pain for a few hours a day. That alone was addicting. But my attitude toward my body changed. Yoga is not about what you cannot do. So when people say they aren't flexible enough or whatever their excuse might be it bothers me because they are missing the point. Yoga is a celebration of what your body can do, even if you can only reach your knees when you bend over. As I started to see what my body was capable of I began to respect it more. My husband noticed a huge difference in my attitude towards myself. My self bashing almost disappeared. Then I got pregnant and stopped my yoga for a while, gained weight, and, well you know the rest.
The word yoga mean yoke. I find that inspiring. We can use yoga to help lift the burdens that we are under whatever those may be. There are eight limbs to yoga:
Yama - Ethical disciplines
Niyama - Self observation
Asana - Posture
Pranayama - Breath control
Pratyahara - Sense withdrawal
Dharana - Concentration
Dhyana - Meditation
Samadhi - A state of joy and peace
There are so many styles of yoga as well, but the purpose of all yoga is "to grow toward enlightenment." When I approach my practice I go into it with the attitude that this can help enlighten me. It can bring you closer to your God, it can shed light on your own abilities, it brings peace, it strengthens and nourishes your body. It's beautiful. Have you ever just watched someone practice yoga without a teacher. Just watch as they move from one asana to the next, it's beautiful.
Pranayama has become one of my best friends. I'm a stressor by nature. I automatically go into panic mode when things get rough, but learning breath control has made a huge difference. I can calm myself down and bring myself back to a place of rational thinking.
So I use my yoga in every day life, not just while I'm in a class or teaching a class. This may not be the answer you were looking for. It may not help you love it the way that I do, but keep trying. There are many types of yoga, experiment until you find something you like. But most importantly, before every practice set an intention and let that guide you through. I often set the intention of health, or self love before I begin. As I think about my intention through my practice it helps me take it to a whole new level of discovery and joy.