Practice Makes Imperfect
I have been practicing yoga for nearly two decades. I started out when peri-menopause symptoms claimed me and I found no other way to make peace with a nervous and endocrine system out of control.
Little did I know what lay ahead. My life looks nothing like it did when I first stepped on a yoga mat. In those ensuing years I got divorced, moved, left the operating room — then went back, left again, and became a grandmother. I got my motorcycle license. And let’s not forget the purple hair!
These are the many gifts of yoga:
Asana brings flexibility to your body and joints.
Yama is when your yoga comes off the mat and you find yourself living mindfully in a world full of other beings.
Niyama is when you begin to apply the principles of mindfulness to your own behavior and inner landscape.
Pranayama is the breath of life moving in and out of your body, through your energy channels, clearing your mind, your heart, your very essence and healing all in its path.
Pratyahara is control of the senses, usually meditative in nature, you go deeper into yourself. You listen, you feel, you smell, you tap into intuitive senses numbed by modern life.
Dharana is an awareness that grows from a practice which includes all of the above. It is the polar opposite of multi-tasking. This is the laser focus which allows you to pause and appreciate the beauty of a single flower on a summer day. To grasp the concept of Now with both hands and then let it slip through your fingers with the very same grace.
Dhyana brings you face to face with The Divine — however, you define Her. This is the place when your soul emerges and makes Herself known to you. “Yes”, She cries out “We are a Spiritual Being!”.
Samadhi brings you home to rest in the arms of The Divine. Not only have you seen Her Face, you know, it’s all going to be ok. She’s got this. All of this.
Yoga isn’t a religion. But it isn’t possible to practice with any regularity and not be transformed by it.
Yoga means to yoke. And that is exactly what it does. You connect all the parts of yourself together in a yoga practice. At first, it just seems like you’re moving through the motions and your body gets sore. But then you notice, you’re breathing better. You’re sleeping better. You’re calmer. You are less tolerant of untruths and you find your voice. Subtle changes happen. You find yourself recycling. Eating less red meat. Thinking about The Earth with capital letters. You feel the connection to all Beings. Even the distasteful ones, the suffering ones, the hurtful ones. Compassion grows inside of you unbidden and pops out when you least expect it. You soften. You become kinder, even towards yourself.
My practice these days is less about how deep I go into a pose and more about what my brain and ego are doing as I move. It’s not about what I’m holding as I stand in Triangle pose, it’s about what I’m letting go of — the expectation that my hand will reach the floor, that only sissies use the blocks, that using the wall really does make help me open my hips and shoulders more = so walls are not bad things after all, and that as long as my body is doing the pose and my mind is quiet — we are ok because there is no ‘wrong’ way, there is only safe and unsafe.
I can’t imagine my life without my mat. Yoga has helped me let go of what needs to go — ego and helped to allow what needs to come — acceptance and grace.
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