There are many reasons why people begin practicing yoga. The answers are all across the board. It could be to reduce stress, increase flexibility, lose weight, get inspired, or simply relax. Most people do not come to yoga, however, thinking they will change their self-perception; yet that almost always happens.
When we find our way to the yoga mat, we first learn the poses, or asanas. We start moving our bodies in new ways and shifting into new positions. These poses stir up things inside the body, and create new pathways and new habits. In our yoga practice, we also focus on the breath, which builds awareness and focuses our attention. At the end of each session, we rest in Savasana, which gives the body time to relax and the mind a space to unwind. By the time class ends, students feel great and can walk away with the classic yoga high.
The work that happens on the yoga mat is very palpable—feeling the poses, hearing the breath, and enjoying the relaxed sensation after Savasana. But the real transformation occurs after we’ve rolled up the mat and gone along with the day. The channels that open during twisting poses like Half Moon give space for more patience when driving home from work. The breath that was slowly inhaled and exhaled during Shoulderstand keeps you calm in tough conversations.
In many ways, the work that happens on the mat also happens in life. Yoga builds flexibility not only in the body, but also in the mind. After stretching their physical limitations, many people begin to look at the world in a different way—a world more open to possibility.
Some questions might come up during this time:
Practicing and teaching yoga helps to expand the body and mind, which in turn expands our self-awareness. Many yogis take a look at their life choices with a fresh pair of eyes. They begin to see through a different lens, marked by love and appreciation for self.
This fresh perspective leads some yogis in new directions, or simply arms them with more happiness and gratitude to continue on the same path. Others turn that fresh lens inward and find more gratitude for their bodies, quirks, hair, unique experiences, and upbringings. They begin to appreciate all of the things that make them special and wonderful.
Yoga has a way of making seemingly imperfect pieces beautiful. Through our journey, we discover the beautiful truth that we are whole and complete exactly how we are. The practice of yoga and the practice of life are one in the same. It’s simply a practice. None of it perfect, all of it perfect.