What does Yoga mean to me?
I guess I can define yoga as an ongoing conversation between the breath, body, and mind: An honest conversation with yourself about who and where you are, and who and where you want to be. Yoga made it possible for me to look at myself, my life, and be honest about it not only with words but also with actions.
Yoga taught me that I do not need to be where I don’t want to be, both in body and in mind. Through yoga, I learned that there is always another way, there is always something I can do, even if it’s changing something inwardly.
How does it work? It’s a simple concept, but as they say, “you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves.” The lesson begins when you are ready to help yourself. And class is constantly in session, also off the mat.
You learn to focus on the things that anchor you and that you may be able to influence. Like your breath. All is in the breath. Tension. Relaxation. Effort. Ease.
Slowly, your body starts changing. You are reminded that through consistent practice, you see progress and results, which keeps you coming back.
Soon enough, you notice the effect on your mind. You learn acceptance. If you are not ready for a pose, you back off today. When you become kinder to yourself, you let go of habits, beliefs, and people that take away your energy and do not contribute to your well-being. Suddenly you realize that by letting go, you have created more space for habits, beliefs, and people that are constructive in your journey.
And there comes the connection between your breath, body, and mind: The holy trinity of the yoga world. When this connection is strong, you are able to listen to your inner wisdom, your intuition, more often. You experience knowing and trust effortlessly.
You can see a true and full reflection of yourself, including parts of yourself that you may have tried to ignore or repress. The ego may peel off layer by layer. Insecurities are slowly being released. You notice that more changing and accepting are taking place. And yes, you can also go for ignoring. But from where you stand now, this looks like a less interesting option. Been there, done that.
You may realize that you have changed. That after years of hearing, “people don’t change,” you finally learn the truth: it’s up to you. You are more powerful than you thought. Excuses are replaced with motivations. Blame and guilt are replaced with responsibility and accountability. It’s not just that the words are different; it’s that you approach it from a position of strength: No more victimizing yourself. Everything happens in a context, and we very often have a say (or a do) about this context.
When your mind is strong you know that come what may, you can handle it as long as the mind is ok, as long as your mind is your own.
If I try to sum it up, I’d say that yoga is no magic. It is a very practical tool for self-development. It all starts and ends with you. Your life is about YOU. This isn’t selfish. It’s also about the difference you make for people and processes around you. You come to understand that doing anything harmful to others is ultimately only damaging for yourself. You come to realize that doing for others is actually doing for yourself. It makes you happy, grateful, valuable.
Loving yourself and others doesn’t always mean being soft and enabling. Sometimes you recognize that you need a kick in the butt. And with the flexibility gained by practicing the physical part of yoga, you can easily kick your own butt.