Yoga is..Evolving Body, Mind and Spirit
|My beautiful kula!|
Who would have thought that simply sitting in room full of women eight hours a day for nearly three months would completely transform your life? Just when I think I've pinned down what yoga is, it redefines itself in mysterious and sometimes indirect ways.
Like many people, I was drawn to yoga because of it's alleged physical benefits -- yes, the infamous yoga body! When experiencing yoga for myself, the benefits far exceeded a good cardio work out; I felt balanced and in control of my life. Of course, at the time I didn't attribute my new found sense of wholeness to my weekly yoga class. In my beginning stages of yoga, I thought it was a mere exercise routine -- and for some people, that's all it is and that's great! For me, the asana (physical postures) were only scraping the surface of an entirely life changing journey.
When developing my own personal practice at home, I began to notice more and more improvements in my life: I was performing better in school and at work and more importantly, I just felt better on a day-to-day basis. As someone diagnosed with bipolar, maintaining a consistent outlook and steady behaviors has always been a challenge for me. It was not until I discovered yoga did I truly come to understand the nature of my disorder. This brought me to a more evolved understanding of what yoga is and how it can benefit someone like me. It suddenly morphed into a daily ritual not just to discipline my body, but to mend my clinically "broken" mind. My personal yoga routine provided me more clarity and confidence in all of my pursuits, not just physical ones. Consequently, I began to feel healthier than I ever had before, in a whole new kind of way.
Thus my spiritual practice slowly began to develop after my discovery of yoga. At first, it seemed independent of my yoga practice, as if the two were unrelated. My spiritual journey was estranged, indifferent, and at times even hostile until about my sophomore year in college. I was without guidance my entire life and experienced a great deal of existential angst on a daily basis. As a college student, I was constantly wondering what I wanted to do with my life..afraid to commit to any one avenue for fear of being stuck doing something loathsome for the rest of my life. At the same time, I was afraid of inaction for I feared regret or failure of my own potential and purpose. It was not until recently that my spiritual truths and love for yoga began to clearly yolk together.
Yoga has since evolved into a full fledged spiritual practice. I was asked just the other day if I practiced yoga for the spiritual benefits or just for the physical practice? It actually made me giggle, for the person I was just four years ago would have had the exact opposite response. I had no other explanation for my dedication other than, "I only practice for the spiritual benefits, the physical are simply an after-effect." My teacher training at Sundara Yoga Therapy in Austin really helped open my eyes to the full potential of yoga. The beautiful ladies who composed my kula (spiritual community) were an endless source of joy and support in my quest for Self-discovery through the study of yoga.
So, I pose the question once again..what is yoga? Who is it meant for? What kinds of benefits does it have? The most important thing yoga has brought to me in my own life is the ability to seek balance, even in horribly imbalanced situations, relationships and places. Through the love and support of my kula and my yoga teacher training program in general, I have been so fortunate to peel away a few of my own layers, getting closer and closer to discover my true Self, the only Self. Thank you ladies! Endless metta!