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Monday
Sep092013

Dear Yoga...

September is National Yoga Month. I am delighted to share this post celebrating yoga that was prompted by an invitation from my friend, Debbie Vinyard at Happy First.

I remember the first time someone introduced me as a “yogi.” We weren’t in a class or even talking about yoga. She was a friend of my son’s and someone I’d had a few discussions with about life and living. I thought about setting her straight and saying “I’m not really a yogi,” but something stopped me. Then, a day or two later, I ran across this quote from Deepak Chopra:

“Practitioners of yoga—yogis—are dynamic and creative forces for positive change.”

Yes, I am a yogi. I believe the yoga mindset—creating positive change—can revolutionize how we respond to one another in the world. I practice yoga to find unity within myself (body, mind, spirit) and, in return, I find connection with other people. Together, we witness and experience positive change.

I do yoga, because it feels great… and it’s challenging. Many of my teachers say the hardest part of the practice is showing up. So true! I don’t always feel like getting out of bed in the morning, but the benefits are always there.

Yoga calms my mind and stretches my body. It calms my body and stretches my mind. Practicing yoga brings the essence of who I am into harmony. Body, mind, and spirit all connect when I am in my yoga practice.

I like to move. Unlike meditation and prayer that leave me relaxed and restored (which I love), yoga lifts any sedentary feelings and energizes me for the day. I’ve heard that the asana poses were developed to give the body something to do so the mind can relax. When I’m trying to balance on one leg or breathe from the tip of my toes to the top of my head, it’s pretty hard to worry about the grocery list or that looming project at work.

Yoga allows me to slip outside my potentially hectic world and slide into a place where only the present moment is essential. It’s just my mat and me for an hour or so… and the mat offers no judgment or criticism.

Yoga comes in many forms and style. My main practice is a form of hot yoga or Hatha where we hold a series of poses for 60 or 90 minutes in a room heated to about 100°. The heat is perfect for me—an Oklahoma girl transplanted to Seattle—especially in the winter. It warms my bones and brightens my spirit.

I leave feeling restored, cleansed, and more clear. The practice not only calms my mind, but also detoxes and strengthens my body. I love getting stronger and being more relaxed. When I practice in the morning, it carries through the rest of my day in lovely ways. In the evening, I find that I sleep more soundly.

Yoga connects me not only to myself, but also to the larger world. I practice in community. I practice on my own. I practice. This concept of “practice” is one of the most profound benefits of yoga, because isn’t everything we do simply practice? We practice how to be better friends, partners, parents, and people. We try new things at home and at work. We practice. Some days things go smoothly. Others not so much.

In yoga, our bodies respond differently every day. Some classes I move into standing bow effortlessly and float like a weightless dancer. Other times, my arm aches or my leg wobbles and I tip over like a drunken flamingo.

Isn’t that how life is? One morning you’re on top of the world and the next day the whirlwind of craziness won’t stop. Yoga gives me the chance to practice being kind to myself… to witness and observe the places I feel creaky and could use a little oil. It allows me to practice being at ease while doing something hard… to sink into the beauty of simply feeling breath move in and out of my lungs.

Yoga has enhanced my life in significant ways—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I love it and am so grateful to Happy First for inviting me to put it into words! If you don’t already practice yoga, I hope you’ll consider finding a class that’s right for you. Talk to your friends. Ask teachers. Read descriptions. See what resonates.

Become a creative force for positive change. Practice Yoga!!

Namaste.

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