10 Simple But Profound Ways Yoga Changed My Life (And Can Change Yours)
I started practicing yoga for the first time on my Wii Balance Board with Wii Fit Plus. I was getting over the brutal ending of my five-year relationship, and my Wii console offered me some desperately needed escape from endless thinking and analyzing. I soon figured out that the yoga practices on Wii Fit Plus helped quiet my mind even more than skateboarding or basketball, and soon I wanted more… urgently. My brother joked at the time and said I was like an addict – "chasing the white light." He was right in some ways – I was chasing the white light – the divine white light that yoga would bring into my life.
Fast forward a few years and yoga is now such an integral part of my life I don’t know how I ever survived without it. These are the lessons yoga continue to teach me every day:
1. New beginnings.
Every day is an opportunity for a new beginning. My yoga practice is different every day. Poses that are hard on one day are manageable or even easy on another. I just have to accept what is happening on the mat for me today. I appreciate what I have on each given day… and know I can start again tomorrow.
2. The value of the pause.
A friend once described me as a "quick thinking, fast talking" person. Having a million-miles-an-hour mind has its perks, but when that chatter becomes destructive, it’s hard to stop the snowball effect. Yoga taught me to pause and be still. I appreciate nothing more than those golden moments when I am moving, fluidly, in a dreamlike state, aware only of the flow of my own breath. Finally, my mind gives it a rest and I become free from its bondage.
3. Expression of my soul.
Savasana has become an amazing opportunity for an encounter with my true self. Seated meditation is still a challenge for me but in savasana I connect with my soul. I don’t think, but things come to me. Insights into myself and I am left in awe of what is in my heart.
4. No more paralyzing fear.
Challenging postures taught me that my fears and doubts paralyze me. When I doubt, I fall out and when I’m scared to fall, fail, or get hurt – I just don’t do anything. It’s my strategy in life too. So now I fall, I get hurt, and I get up… because it’s so important to DO something. When it doesn’t work out the way I planned, it’s never as significant as I thought it would be.
5. Releasing and letting go.
In a posture, when you hold on, you tighten up, constrict and contract, and there’s little room for moving forward. Sounds a bit like life – surprise, surprise! Letting go of what you don’t NEED is essential to move forward. The tension is self-inflicted; become aware of it, then release it.
6. Loving the bod.
Yoga has me seeing my body as a team. All my organs, cells, glands, and me – we have a little support group going on. I look after them, and they look after me. We chat and listen, and I learn so much from all of them because this body knows endlessly more than I could ever fathom. We heal each other every day.
My practice teaches me to be at peace with what is, even if it’s not exactly how I had envisioned it. I will be on a mission to conquer one of my nemesis postures, without progress to get excited about, when suddenly, without warning, I will get into another posture for the first time. Just like that. For every pose that has eluded me, yoga has given me another just as lovely instead.
8. My endless potential.
I have expanded my body in yoga in ways that had me realize how much more there is to me. It’s a journey during which I am expanding my body, my potential and my understanding of the limitlessness of being human.
9. Physical body improvements.
I am no spring chicken, but I’m in better physical shape than I've ever been. I am strong and I am healthy. No diet, no starvation, no extremes – just me and my "support group" doing the work as a team!
Yoga has made me happy. I get a sense of intense joy when I roll out my purple mat and get into that first Downward-Facing Dog. I come home – centered, peaceful, and happy. I am being with what is. I am.
Dear yoga: Thank you.