Recently I’ve come to the realization that my yoga practice is very closely tied into what is going on in my life. When I am worked up and anxious, my poses are unstable and tentative. When my mind is racing, I cannot focus on anything I read, much less meditate. My insane drive for perfectionism feeds my anxiety, leading to poor decisions and ultimately aching body parts. (see post of 2/19/12) :)
Here’s a chew toy for the mind….Does yoga change my life or does life change my yoga?
But what is ‘yoga’?
To me, ‘yoga’ is becoming a way of living and being. It is a way of looking at the world and a way of looking at myself. Honestly, no harsh judgments, lovingly, gracefully, and above all, with kindness. It is a way of nurturing my body, soul, and spirit with asanas, scriptures, breathing, and meditation. It is a gentle hand turning my focus from the negative to the positive, slowly, slowly, slowly. No rushing, no hurrying, no pushing. Breathe in, make a small adjustment, maintain the energy; breathe out, make another adjustment, release any tension.
Only love, only grace, only kindness
But the world is not kind to those of us wanting to improve ourselves. The world wants to hold us back, get us to judge, keep us down in a pit where we can be controlled. I have people I thought were friends who openly discourage me from exercising, criticize my yoga practice, and tell me I am fine the way I am (and here, have some cake/pie/cheesecake.) So maintaining that positive energy and not allowing tension to build is itself a struggle, and one that ends up producing an insane amount of stress.
Crazy isn’t it?
Here I want to be free of the negativity of the past, but even in that desire is a certain amount of striving and straining – an eagerness to shed bad habits and never look back. Those very actions contain the seeds that can and will poison the future.
So, back to the ‘chicken-and-the-egg’ question with an answer. I think yoga has the potential to change my day-to-day life, but my day-to-day life has the potential to change my yoga practice.
I reflect back to the very, very beginning of my self-actualization phase. Just be. Be in the moment. Be in the present. Be in calm, still voice that rests within. Stop struggling to ‘do’. Stop fighting to shake off. Stop wrestling with the world. The world is going to do what it’s going to do, with or without me. It’s all good. And I mean that. Every experience is only good, because within what may be considered ‘bad’ there is the potential to learn and to become just a bit better than I was the day before.
And through it all, honestly, truly, sincerely, let the light in my heart color everything I do, remembering that what I see in the eyes of others is usually a reflection of what I feel in my heart.
Thoughts to take with me today: Live yoga. Breathe, smile, love, be.