Ever since I started practicing yoga, I was very aware of this ancient practice being more than just a physical practice. I have seen firsthand in many of my students, and in myself, how we hold emotional hardships and Trauma in our body. Our body and the ability to move is directly affected from our mental and emotional state.
In addition to that, becoming a teacher has completely transformed my mind as a yogi. I have realized how much more yoga is a spiritual journey instead of a physical journey. Yeah it’s really cool when you can do an awesome pose. Yes, it’s really nice to be getting a flatter stomach. But these physical outcomes are not the reason or the goal of our yoga practice. I say this in almost every class and I will probably say it again through this writing… “Yoga is a spiritual journey, mind, body, and spirit. The whole reason we practice yoga is to prepare ourselves for meditation.” The whole reason we meditate is to connect to the Center of ourselves, to the person who we are supposed to be, and of course connect to our Creator. No matter what you have heard, or what you have been taught, I am here to tell you, yoga is a spiritual practice.
You do not have to be a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other sort of religion to practice yoga. Yoga is very Universal because it allows all of these differences to come together. You might be practicing and meditating next to someone who is from a completely different side of the world than you, and that is a beautiful thing. By coming together and sharing our positive and flowing energy, we uplift and encourage others without even using our words.
In my classes, I also say, if you are not moving with the breath, you are not doing yoga. The reason why we focus so much on the breath during our yoga practice it’s to help us stay in the present moment. When we think about the past or our plans for the future, we are not living in the moment. For all we have is this very moment, this breath. So if you’re holding your breath and practice, Let It Go. One of my teachers Leah, has even said that her teacher says breathe naturally. Let the breath flow as it wishes as you move. That is still perfectly fine, because you are aware and focused on the natural rhythm of the breath. But without the thought of the breath, how can we release that trauma, those emotions? Without thinking of the breath, where is your mind wandering?
By focusing on the different patterns of the breath, we begin to relax and soften into ourselves and in the present.
So the end of the practice comes, and we are to rest in savasana. Savasana is the best part of class, why would anyone skip it?! This relaxation pose, corpse pose, is presented at the end of the class so we allow ourselves to rest, be still, and allow the practice and its benefits to absorb inside our body. We are then therefore ready to sit up in a comfortable meditation and turn inward and upward.
Meditation is not quieting the mind; instead meditating is about observing the thoughts without judgment. Yoga is a spiritual journey, mind, body, and spirit. The whole reason we practice yoga is to prepare ourselves for meditation. When the mind drifts in meditation, bring your awareness back to the breath, over and over. THIS IS YOGA. Yoga is much more than the asana; the practice goes much deeper. Into the mind and soul…
Yoga is very diverse and there are many kinds of styles to reach each individual and their needs. However, in every style of yoga, the focus should be on the mind, body, and spirit. Our goals and intentions vary as much as our bodies, but it all should stem from a place of love.