Why do you practice yoga? I try to be intentional with everything that I do in my life, so this is a question that I think about often. Just as our teachers instruct us to set an intention for each class, I also like to set a broader intention for why I come to this practice in the first place. Many people approach yoga as just another form of exercise, which it certainly is, but for me, the physical benefits of yoga have always been an added bonus to the mental, spiritual and emotional benefits that I receive from my practice. These are the things that keep me returning to my mat day after day, week after week. This is why the teachers I connect to the most are the ones who weave bigger spiritual and personal growth themes and teachings into their classes.
I was recently speaking to a new acquaintance about yoga and sharing about how wonderful my teachers are and how important my practice is to me. Since I practice multiple times a week, she commented to me that I must be really good at yoga. It caused me to pause, since I never consider myself “good” or “bad” at yoga. It is called a practice for a reason, and some days I feel really strong and adventurous, and some days I’m tired and my body just won’t get into certain postures, so I take it easier on myself. I have never looked at yoga as something to master. It will always be an ongoing learning and growth process, just like overall personal growth is something that will go on for the rest of my life. Part of why I connect with yoga on such a deep level is because it is so much more than a physical practice. It is also a form of meditation for me. Calling me an overthinker is an understatement, and yoga is one of the few things I have found that calms my mind and requires me to be fully present with my body and my breath. I physically notice the difference when I am distracted during a practice and not as focused and present. Yoga is pure magic in my opinion. It has deeply changed me as a human being, and my practice is something that I am immensely grateful for. Over the past year, it has been a saving grace for me during times of uncertainty and turbulence. It brings me strength, joy, community, challenge and the tools to move through this life in a way that is calm, kind, centered and grounded. May it do the same for you. Let me know in the comments why you show up on your mat.