It took me many years to get into yoga. I had decided strength training was my one major love, and that yoga was trendy, and that I didn't have the patience for it.But, like in strength training, or running, or jumping on an elliptical... or dating or starting a new book, the benefits don't favour you or hug you at first, necessarily. Tonight I went to a hot yoga class. Not only can you feel your muscles "hugging" you for warming and releasing them, but you can feel your cells renew, your body detoxify, the mental tensions of the day become meaningless... This past year was by far the most difficult year of my life to date. I think this is what strikes us in our mid-twenties: stress, panic, frustration, worry, confusion, indecision - yoga makes us aware of how we carry these mental characteristics in our bodies. All of my panic, it seems, has gouged itself into my hips! (I must add, it is going to take many, many more hot yoga classes to get those suckers to calm down.) Yoga is forgiving. Yoga allows your body and your heart and your mind to follow its course, whatever that may be. As my instructor tonight mentioned, "it is a challenge, but not a struggle". Yoga's physical challenge is important, because it mirrors the resistance and the new difficulties we face in life, which then are followed by release. I love the physical challenge of the practice, but where I'm really seeing progress is that ability to follow the gut. To be pure and right and make better decisions. Another striking line by tonight's instructor: "Be aware of that which is in you and not serving you well... and let it go." We all hang on to what does not serve us well, whether it be anxiety about money, toxic relationships, self-deprecating thoughts, fears... We need to be reminded to let these things go. And sometimes all it takes is some exhalations.
To sum up - yoga is pretty powerful in matching the physical with the mental. Mirroring the two, pushing through resistance, practicing the release. We all need it now and then, no matter what goes on inside us. We don't have the mind without the body and vice versa - there is no isolating each. This practice of progression - constructively wrestling through the hold-ups, physical and otherwise - makes me love everything. And it sure makes me love ME a whole lot more.
Sorry for the cheesy entry this time, but how can you talk about these things without getting a little sappy? It is our BEING!
Yoga is a tremendous practice and a great release, and - well, yoga and my blog are great friends.
*photo found at www.fitsugar.com