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When I began practicing yoga ten years ago, I was just casually dating it. I would use it to help me stretch and loosen my tight muscles, but I never considered being in a long-term relationship with yoga.
It wasn't until a major health scare that I decided to commit to yoga – hot yoga, in particular. It wasn't that I felt like I had to commit to yoga, but my body asked me for more yoga and I obliged. Just a couple weeks into my yoga stint, I felt like I'd been through a rebirth of sorts. While I'm not a religious person, I believe that energy exists in this massive universe which drives us to lead certain lives. In any case, yoga became my religion and the studio became my temple.
Here's how yoga transformed me spiritually…
1. The classes gave me space to deal with life.
Maybe it was the hum of peace and unity that permeated my studio. Or maybe it was all the twisting and heart-opening of the poses. But yoga provided me a way to channel the energy of my life. It helped me re-learn what my life vibration was, and focus on people, things, and places that resonated with that vibration, while getting rid of the rest. If a life problem arose, I went to yoga to help move myself toward my answer.
2. I got more mental clarity.
As I honed in on what my life vibration was, it became crystal clear to me what resonated at that same vibration and what did not. Stated more simply, I was able to channel how I was feeling more easily, frequently and efficiently, allowing me to make better decisions for me in a given moment. The choices I made felt more aligned with my center. From the food I put in my body to the people I hung around with to my professional choices, I felt more aligned and centered than perhaps at any other point in my life.
3. I learned to breathe through both the easy and difficult.
Here's the deal with life: everyone experiences their own form of “good” and “bad," even if those experiences aren't someone else’s “good” or “bad.” But the point of religion – and for me yoga – is to learn to remain calm and centered through both the good and bad. To breathe the same no matter what is happening to you or around you means that you remain closer to your core vibration, have more mental clarity, and have space to let your authentic emotion guide you to an answer that will be the best for you.
Saying “om” to connect to the universe is one thing, but learning that yoga is as much a meditation as it is a physical challenge is the key to unlocking your own spirituality and perhaps making yoga your religion as well.