Cookies & Yoga: Choosing What to Practice

I have a thing for ice cream. Also cookies, and pumpkin pie. In fact I've tried pumpkin pie pretty much everywhere I've been, and am pretty sure I know where the best is. I'll save that for later.

It's fun to eat peanut butter cookies, even though I know all the reasons for steering clear of sugar and the rest. So of course I also get around to eating things that are good for me, things that have me feeling all-over good in a much more lasting and fundamental way. Real food, mostly plants, not too much. Thanks to Michael Pollan for this incredibly effective guide. It's the difference between my whole life feeling good, and just having some fun with mint chocolate chip.

What we put inside us is enormously important to how we feel. So food is right up at the top of how we influence our lives. In the same (immediately related) way, how we do yoga is enormously important to our feeling, and our ability to directly guide our lives. One of the great things in yoga is all the opportunities along the way to get hits of inspiration. There are moments where we feel amazed by our own ability to do what we might have insisted was impossible only years, weeks, or even minutes earlier. Balancing, upside-down, and backbending poses are all favorites for these moments of inspiration.

Of course, it's not just one moment that's important. It's the whole class. It's our whole life. What yoga gives us is practice in making a shift, from small fixations to something more holistic. Whether in the yoga room or anywhere, we all get disconnected moments of occasional wow's. These can be addictive, not unlike peanut butter cookies. Something happens when our focus is directed on creating those moments. If we fixate on nailing a Crow Pose, maybe someday we'll get it. Maybe lots of days we won't. Or maybe we will, but that other person in the room did it way better. Once we stick the crow pose, then what? Off to the next pose! And what happens if we never get that pose?

Yoga gives us moments that feel good, that remind us what it feels like to hold faith in our selves. Our doing yoga can also be practice in holding that faith all of the time. We're not really moving from or to something. We're always here, right where we are, in our selves. Breathing deeply, creating room to navigate through that feeling, connects us with our selves. Our intuition comes from here, our ability to direct our lives comes from here. The great thing about yoga is its way of relocating our sense of self worth, from what we can see, to what we can feel inside us.

So what about the poses? We have a choice there. We can set them up as the goal, and push our selves toward them. But in general, we're pretty good already at setting up goals and pushing ourselves to accomplish things. Striving and frustration with where we are right now are probably not the first things we need to practice! Our other choice is to practice faith in our selves. Trust that our bodies work the way they need to, we only need to quiet a bit and listen.

The thing about poses is, they all happen in our own bodies in their own way when we're ready. And the secret is, they happen easily, when we put our focus into feeling and relating to our selves. It takes trust, and some patience. Feeling, not forcing. Working easily with ourselves, rather than pushing hard to overcome obstacles that might not really be obstacles.

Poses are fun. So we keep doing poses! They're good for us. But it's helpful to let the perspective widen a little. Yoga is even more interesting for whole health in our whole being when we move into feeling and self-faith. Move into moving not from or to anywhere, but right where we are. Every moment and every inch is equally important. Yoga gives us a great place to practice, and it's up to us what we practice. Our lives take whatever shape we create.

image via yogalaconner

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