Maybe we haven't been hearing so much about the benefits of yoga these days, we've been caught up in whether it can hurt you and the who is sleeping with whom drama, but I'd like to bring it back to what placing those cute manicured (or manly ) toes-ies on your mat can bring you.
1) "Mirror, mirror on the mat, please remind me where my head is at?"
Connecting into your breathing will bring you present as well as show you what your mind is spending some much focusing on, what it feels like to be present in a room, and nice reminder that your foot bones are con-nected to YOUR SHIN BONE (yes I wrote that in a singing manner). Most of us spend all day thinking, planning, plotting (my yoga world take over), and over analyzing our days to the point where we can mindless eat, plug into a tv when we get home, and possibly kill our creativity, BUT when you take a break, a yoga time out if you will, and take a class or even flow through a few sun salutations (right I time out in cat/cow or forward fold to reset my buttons), you are breaking the thought pattern. You are reminding your head where it's at and giving it a well needed lunch break!
2) "Mirror, mirror on the mat, how can I get rid of all this fat?"
Okay, okay, I don't like to think of yoga as "exercise" either, but you can't help and address the fact that yoga is good for your body. Not just losing weight, but those who feel disconnected from their bodies can come back "home" in a gentle way and possibly make nice with things about themselves they could hardly tolerate. Sure sweating it up for 90 minutes will burn some calories, probably tone your arms, maybe even make you feel stronger, but this is nothing compared to yoga helping you build a bridge to better self-esteem, stronger self worth, and knowing that YOU ROCK and you don't care who disagrees with you.
3) "Mirror, Mirror on the mat, for only a minute have I sat!"
Your body aches, your mind wanders, yet you crave stillness, peace, and quiet. You unroll the mat, whip out the cushion, and sit down. You pay attention to your breathing and then BAM! A storm of thoughts roll in and you are swept away. Open your eyes and only three minutes have passed. SH!T. Ok, now I know some of you meditate regularly, I personally have a hard time sitting still so I do a walking meditation and then sit on a park bench to just "observe". For those of you who don't have time, take a few minutes post-class and sit. In general, people rolling up their mats and rushing off to the next place will be respectful once they see you sitting there eyes closed. If it is still hard to be still in the mind, count your breath. I know it's just giving your monkey mind something to do, but it will help. Inhale 5, pause 1, exhale 5, pause 1. Repeat as many times as you want. Maybe start with try 20 cycles, that's nearly five minutes of stillness!
4) "Mirror, mirror in my heart, please tell me we don't have to part!"
The more you move, breathe, slow down, sit still, the more connected you will be with yourself. Whether that self is your higher self, God, Shiva, Allah, or just your shiny, sparkly heart center, it doesn't matter what you call it, because it will start to be bigger and brighter within you. That yoga bliss you may have felt every now and then will begin to be the norm. Instead of feeling isolated or alone, you'll start to feel the greater connection to everyone, but also with yourself! Just like you start to build the bridge to liking your body, yoga can help remind you there is a bridge to yourself and that you are connected to the webs of life. I mean, really what is better than this?
While there are articles out there (and there probably will be more through the year) that scare people away from yoga, YOU know the truth. You may come because you want to clear your mind. You may come because you want to love your body. BUT you'll keep coming because you found that connection to you, the mirror has always been inside you. You just needed to see it.
Namaste and I hope you make time for your mat today!