Common Yoga Aversions
When I encourage people to try yoga or explain that I am a yoga teacher, the most common response is: “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible.” This is like me saying, “I can’t play basketball because I am not 6 feet tall,” or “I can’t run because I have poor stamina.” It does not mean that we cannot participate in these activities, but, perhaps, we don’t have the natural talents or luxurious tools. Some people were born tall and others naturally flexible. One of the beauties of yoga is that the only equipment required is your body. This includes disabled bodies, overweight bodies, bodies of all skin colors, sick bodies, healthy bodies, all bodies.
So when I hear this response, I view it as an excuse. A misconception. Yoga is not only for flexible people. Developing a flexible body is a result of practicing. So is strength and balance.
Unite the Mind-Body-Spirit
Yoga translates as union. It is a union between your body and mind. Between your spirit and the universal energy. Ancient Indian texts describe it as the coming into being and the ceasing to be.
We move our body to the flow of our breath. We are not meant to think about the laundry or work or our date tonight. We are thinking about our lungs inhaling and exhaling air. We are observing the present moment through sensations and physical assessments.
The path to the mind-body connection is through managing our thoughts and impulses. For example, concentration is required when we are upside down, balancing in a headstand. Discipline is required while we are holding our body in Warrior II. We teach our hips to relax in pigeon pose by mentally directing our muscles to soften while intentionally slowing the pace of the breath.
Intimacy With Your Body’s Boundaries
Each time we practice, the state of our mind and body may be different. Where is the threshold today and is it right to push it? Perhaps only a millimeter forward is appropriate. Perhaps we don’t push it at all. Only you know what is best for your body.
Yoga is listening to the body and the mind, instead of reacting. It is surrendering. Letting go. Relaxing. Fighting. Breathing. Releasing. Existing. Healing. You can learn a lot about yourself by getting on the mat for one hour a day. The practice of focusing on the movement of the body, breathing, and being present leads to positive mental and physical health outcomes.
Practice, Not Perfection
Your mind may wander. You may experience frustration. You may feel uncomfortable. Thus, we refer to its application as a yoga practice, not yoga perfection. Maintain consistency as the drops of bliss that you may feel at times will turn into liters. What you cultivate and build on the mat spreads to the rest of your everyday life.