In many of my blog posts, I’ve written about what yoga has taught me over the years, and continues to teach me every single day. I have learned so many life lessons via the physical practice, working on postures, meditation, breath work, and studying yogic philosophy.
As many yogis will attest... I started yoga for the physical benefits and have stuck with it and dedicated myself to it for the mental/spiritual/emotional empowerment.
I am a more authentic version of me because of my yoga practice. I know myself today better than I did when I started practicing many moons ago. I am more present, kind, and calm. I can handle myself better when life throws curveballs. I am more sensitive, compassionate, empathetic. I am more honest to myself and others.
Yes, yoga is so much more than just the physical practice, in fact, that is just one of the eight limbs of yoga, according to Patanjali.
For instance, the first limb lists the five Yamas, which are ethical guidelines we should strive to live by, much like, say, the 10 Commandments. They include: nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-covetousness.
For a simple example of one of these, let’s look at one of my favorites: nonviolence (ahimsa). This doesn’t just mean not physically harming someone, something (nature) or animals… it also extends to not mentally or emotionally hurting someone, including ourselves. Every time we think something negative about ourselves, we are not abiding by the yama of nonviolence. We are likely also not abiding by truthfulness (satya), because chances are high whatever that negative thing we thought about ourselves isn’t even true in the first place!!
The second limb is niyama, and these have to do with our spiritual practices and self-discipline. These get pretty deep… and each one really demands an entire blog post for itself… so I’ll discuss at a later date, but these are deeply personal, spiritual practices.
Then we get to the third limb which is asana (the physical practice) and then limbs 4-8, which deal with breathing, meditation, contemplation, and ultimately reaching transcendence. No big. Hah!
This is where yes, yoga can indeed be a very spiritual practice for many.
Yoga is a lifestyle. It is not just the duration of time I spend on my mat. That is why I was so excited to see the Yoga International and the Yoga and Body Image Coalition’s upcoming challenge: #24sevenyoga – which is all about taking our practice off the mat.
*And… if you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know that body image is a passion of mine. And if you ask me... The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is the bees knees. Amazing people doing such important work for so many men and women around the world.
Yoga has played a meaningful role in my life helping me love and appreciate my body. I’ll often find myself dedicating practices to loving every inch of my body. Deeply. Truly. SO MUCH. Yes, even that cellulite on my ass. Love love love. Mwah.
So, I am excited to take part in their week-long challenge, and I encourage you all to do it right along with me! For details, check out the website here.