I drank the kool-aid. I am a full on yoga addict. I refer to something beyond the joy of bending and folding, something other than stretching and balancing, twisting and opening, something outside the boundaries of our mats, our studios, our bodies and even our minds. I can’t recommend the physical practice enough. My body feels strong, balanced, open and intelligent. I feel more connected to it and more appreciative of it. But why I love yoga so much, why I feel my cup runneth over with enthusiasm and why I can’t stop sharing this goodness takes me even further than a strong, healthy body. It is the virtues yoga has bestowed that are now forever with me as I perceive and respond to my day. It is these that have made me kinder to myself, more compassionate to others and these that have sunk me deeper and deeper in love with life.
1. Patience - As a recovering forward thinker, patience has very slowly crept into my existence. Naturally, it required patience to acquire patience. Just like yoga, you must practice in order for it to become apart of your essential nature. I no longer feel in a hurry to reach the next thing, the next date, the next achievement. Fall in love with this moment and patience will flood your being. All you’re waiting for will arrive in due time, trust this and then let it go. Be happy now and you’re sure to be happy later.
2. Integrity - This is a virtue that is fostered in development, often taught by the example of loved ones, but sharpened beautifully during the journey of yoga. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz speaks to the impeccability of your word, in both thought and speech. Living honestly, openly and compassionately in words and action will keep your mind clear and your soul at ease. Yoga inspires immense trust and heightened awareness. Acknowledging who you’ve been and who you wish to be will bring about a more authentic You, now. Others will be inspired by your living example.
3. Clarity/Transparency - I cannot event count the number of human beings I’ve come across, either teachers or avid practitioners, who discovered many personal truths by way of yoga and have since made major changes in their lives. Many left jobs they’d been dedicated to for years, even decades, careers that provided a substantial income and luxuries, but otherwise left them feeling incomplete and uncertain through most of their days. Yoga gave them the clarity and the courage to live the life they truly desired, and once they made the choice to leave their past selves behind, they emerged in the present as the content, kind and luminous souls they were meant to be.
4. Fluidity - Being fluid, in body and mind, equips you to better go with the flow, on and off the mat. Similar to a challenging pose, an obstacle comes our way in life and we can either resist it, clench our jaw, guard our hearts and tense up the rest of our mind and body, or we can surrender, embrace the inevitable difficulties life throws our way, and be like water, moving through the obstructive forces with grace and ease. Stay in tune with your breath, listen to your heart and be grateful for all that you are and you will flow through your moments, no matter how they arrive.
5. Tenacity - Many of these virtues already exist within us, could’ve been there since birth. And some have been lying dormant for years, only needing a gateway to break through. I was a persistent, tenacious little shit as a young girl. Yoga gave me finesse. The tools of tenacity, breath, focus and discipline are fine-tuned in yoga. How you apply this virtue is even more important than simply carrying it. Now, I am enthusiastic and unyielding in feeling present, loving and grateful each day and I allow that energy to flow into my pursuits, my relationships and my daily activities. Be earnest, truthful and passionate about your life, your love, your food, your goals, your experiences every single day. You deserve nothing less.
6. Contentment - Santosha! Simple, yet profound, as most important virtues of this existence are. Santosha is the 2nd Niyama (observance) in the Sutras, and it provides fertile breeding grounds for enlightenment, sets the tone for your day and for all other yogic virtues to seep into your being. Santosha is a choice inspired by Yoga to live in serenity and satisfaction with all that life is. At the baser level, humans are born to feel content, and this acknowledgment will lead to sound decisions, positive communication, and consistent growth.
Going with the flow is a complex dance supported by the grace of surrender and the beauty of self-acceptance and love. We learn on our mat just how equipped each one of us is to handle any given moment off of it. Instead of being overwhelmed by life’s perpetual motion and constant change, or paralyzed by fear of the unknown, we become acutely aware that where we are is already enough. The love, intelligence and goodness you are is here to stay, and that essence, along with some yogic virtues, will carry you through the flow each day.
image via Derek James Robinson