For about three years now, I’ve practiced yoga regularly because of its many benefits. Because of my daily obligations, however, my love and commitment to this practice has slipped away, which is why this spring I’ve decided to jump back in and rediscover my yogi roots.
I originally turned to yoga because I had trouble sleeping due to the fact that my mind has an increasingly elusive off-button, and the moving meditation is a way to wind down both body and mind synchronously. Later, I returned to yoga again during a time when I needed some serious mental and physical healing. Since then, yoga has always had a substantial presence in my life, though the mindfulness of my practice has slipped to the back burner, as previously mentioned.
This is the first of 14 weeks (98 days, but I’m tagging two on to make it 100) solely dedicated to reaffirming a practice in my life which has changed it in a dramatically positive way. So what did I do this week that makes it different than what I’ve done before?
I focused on motivation.
What gets you up in the morning? What is important to you, and why? What do you want out of your life? These are all questions I sought (and continually seek) to answer in my daily life. One of the ways I do this is closely examining myself during meditation.
There are many reasons people do yoga. For some, it is a method to maintain physical fitness. For others, it is a way of maintaining mental health. For others, it is a religious practice. When practicing yoga, as with anything to which you give a substantial portion of your time and energy, it is important to understand your motivation. Otherwise, that time and energy, which could be spent in other ways, is easily wasted. So what is mine?
I have been criticized a few times by well-meaning friends because I identify as a Christian and yet practice yoga, which is rooted in Hindu practices. Although I think discussing yoga spirituality deserves its own post, I want to say that this past week has been dedicated to deciphering how these two seemingly conflicting ideas can work together. The first important thing to note is that with yoga, as with other areas of life, it is entirely what you make it. That is why I think that it is imperative to understand one’s motivation behind doing anything before making a true commitment.
The second thing to note is this: although I love the idea of being physically in shape, that is not the main reason for my yoga practice. Instead, I want to focus on an experience that trains my mind and my body all at once, which is something I think yoga can help me to achieve. I have been able to use a yoga-style meditation in order to focus on the spiritual aspect of my faith, which includes a mental discipline one gains through practicing difficult or potentially boring poses in yoga (such as sukhasana, the cross-legged seat).
I think that after a few years of regular practice, a yogi can begin to feel as though they know everything and in this way, yoga becomes “boring” or tedious. This is definitely something that happened to me, so this journey is also dedicated to another aspect of yoga:
I want to become a student again.
That’s right: I want to rid myself of this idea that I know everything.
This week has been rough in that area, because I feel a lot of the time as though since I already know the poses, I am no longer learning. But through some deep practicing, I’ve been able to rediscover areas of my practice in which I struggle. As it turns out, there are many of these.
I think this mindset is a useful way to approach not just yoga, but life. As teachers, we are expected to know everything and are held accountable for all of our actions. But as students, we are humbled by our actions and have both the freedom and ability to explore areas of our lives which we have perhaps overlooked or left untended for extended periods of time.
This past week has tried my patience in many ways, as I have committed myself to slowing down my practice and extending my meditation. (Also I recently got a shot in my arm, and there was a massive bruise there which hurt every time I moved it). But by re-evaluating my motivation as well as re-invigorating by desire to be a student again, I have begun to rediscover my love for yoga as well as the many benefits yoga has, which I will discuss in later posts.
So what does this mean for you?
Even if you are not someone who practices yoga on a regular basis, or if you’ve never stepped on a mat in your life, this may have some relevance for you. If you find yourself feeling stuck, or unmotivated, or confused about which direction your life should go, perhaps you may need to take a step back and re-evaluate your motivation for doing what you are doing. Maybe ask yourself these questions:
- How do my daily habits affect my attitude and health?
- What do I want to get out of my life, and does my daily routine help or hinder my progress?
- Am I willing to learn, even in areas in which I may consider myself to be an expert?
- How can I enhance the mundane areas of my life, so that I am not wasting my time?
Yoga is a way of discovering what lies beneath our conscious minds and into what we feel and do subconsciously, but even if it does not appeal to you, these questions, which are part of a regular yoga practice, may help you to see your daily life a little more clearly. It is important to be as honest with oneself as possible in order to gain true understanding of the answers to these questions, which then can lead to moving forward in your life.
That’s all for now – and thank you for reading about my yoga journey. I’ll see you all next week!
What are your experiences with yoga, or any of the topics mentioned above? How has yoga impacted your life? I can’t wait to hear from you!