Yoga as a Way of Life
I work full time in an office, and I’ve used most of my vacation time the last couple of years to complete yoga teacher certification. Next week I begin the next level of teacher training at Kripalu, in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. This morning, my boss asked me, “What are you going to do with all these yoga hours?” I answered, “I’m going to teach,” and, “Someday I will open my own place…” For years I’ve been interested in opening my own business, and yoga/health-consciousness will absolutely be a part of it … details to come. I know, however, that even if that weren’t true, I wouldn’t change this invaluable experience for the world. It has led to me really “living yoga,” which has brought me to a place of health and happiness I could never have imagined. By living yoga, I mean making it a part of daily life, not just a once-a-week gym class. I mean not only practicing asanas (physical postures) every day, but also learning about and practicing the other aspects of yoga such as its ethical principals, meditation, breathing exercises, concentration, and control of the senses. I encourage anyone interested in yoga to make it a part of his or her daily life. Whether you are seeking physical strength and flexibility, recovering from an illness, or looking to increase your peace of mind, yoga will heal you from the inside out and bring you places you may have never considered before.
I am so grateful to have found yoga. It has enhanced my life and the lives of the people around me. In all honesty, though, being a yoga teacher was something I hadn’t considered until all hell broke loose in my personal life. Now that I have gone through the training process, I hope to share it with as many people as possible. So much more than a physical practice, living yoga has given my life new meaning, and I believe it can do that for anyone.
I started yoga teacher training because I needed a goal to work toward and some clarity for the future. I needed deep healing on many levels. I had just gotten divorced, and needed a new focus. Yoga helped me navigate that time with much more grace, I’m sure, than if I hadn’t practiced. On top of that, earlier trauma relentlessly plagued my mind. Dedicated daily yoga and mindfulness practice has helped me come to terms with these things and be much more present, and thus much more joyful. Now that I’ve achieved the healing I sought, learned so much about myself, and changed the way I perceive the world in the process, I feel it wouldn’t be right to keep it all to myself! So I started this blog as one way to share my own experiences in the hopes that someone else will benefit.
When I enrolled in a teacher-training program, I had been practicing yoga for ten years and it was becoming increasingly important in my life. My yoga teacher at the time noticed my passion and suggested I enroll. I had never considered such a thing for various reasons, not the least of which being that my self-esteem was not great. That, however, is one of the many parts of myself that have evolved through consistent effort. We are constantly evolving, and our thoughts have so much power. For so long, I told myself I couldn’t do things or wasn’t good enough. Too many of us do this too often. Yoga has helped me to recognize these thought patterns and change them. Through yoga I have learned that we are all so much more connected than it may seem. We all depend on each other, and at the most basic level, we have the same needs. So many of us struggle with physical and emotional health issues. So many of us are extremely self-critical, and subject ourselves to unnecessary misery for this reason. We limit ourselves and do not realize our full potential. We do not love life the way we can. I have found that going deep inside myself has actually increased my connection to others and enabled me to be a more productive member of society. Practicing mindfulness has allowed me to come into the moment more frequently, enabling me to fully experience all the joy and beauty that exists, if only we can become aware of it. It has allowed me to recognize self-defeating thoughts and transform them in order to become the best person I can be.
Earning my yoga teacher certification was the best decision I’ve ever made. I will always be a student of yoga, and I will always incorporate it into my daily life. A daily yoga practice can sound daunting, and it does take discipline and persistence. It is so worth the effort, though, and again, I encourage anyone interested in yoga to make it a part of daily life. It can start as simple as a five-minute meditation or a few sun salutations around the same time every day. It might include reading the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, or various other yogic texts. It’s easy to bring mindfulness to your daily life by simply paying attention to your breath, or by taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of nature. If you are interested (or already practicing) yoga, taking the time to learn about its many aspects (beyond the physical, which is typically the focus in the West) is a worthwhile investment. The resources seem limitless! It will only bring good.
Please feel free to comment with any suggestions, experiences, or other thoughts! I would love to hear from you.