“The meaning of our self is not to be found in its separateness from God and others, but in the ceaseless realization of yoga, of union.”
I remember meditating at the end of my practice in Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus) at the age of 15 as the Indian yoga guru talked about the benefits of this pose and how it improves my circulation and blood flow in the pelvis. Yoga was not a trendy fad and the thing to do as much as it is now. Yoga has entered the American mainstream as a fad from health clubs to corporations. It has turned more meditation and self-practice to a superficial spin on things and an obsession over the “hippie/boho” lifestyle. In reality, taking things I have grown up with, changed the name and made it into a business. It’s become a competition of poses, a thing to do and associated with Lululemon which don’t get me wrong I have NOTHING against but that’s not what yoga is about.
I started practicing yoga with the intention of more than the physicality benefits but as a gateway to myself and spiritual inner being. The practice is intended for more than being tone because if that were the case than why not just go to the gym? Being a person of color and of South Asian roots, specifically a brown woman, I like to pay respect to the fact that yoga was created and practiced for much more than an imitation of postures. It is more about finding peace and even myself on the mat than showing off my crow pose in class. Don’t take this a stab at fellow yogis either. I love seeing posts of their accomplishments in the many poses and how far they have come. It is all about how you approach it.
My practice is not about achieving a certain pose or becoming more flexible. It is about creating a space where I was once stuck in. To unveil and strip layers of protection I’ve built around my heart because I have trouble dealing with emotions. It’s taking all my stress, anger, heartache and releasing it on the mat to welcome light, love and peace. When I am on the mat I appreciate my body and become aware of the noise that my mind creates. It helps me make peace with who I am and to love myself in all my forms. I have found so much peace and parts on myself on that mat than anywhere else in the world. I am less concerned about what brand yoga pants I put on or how cool I look in Vrschikasana (Scorpion) but more so about who I become at the end of my practice.
You are probably wondering how it is has affected me besides toning my body but I use it in my daily life. It has taught me to breathe better and when I am stuck in Houston traffic and a driver cuts me off for no reason I have used what I learned in my practice to not get angry over it. I have learned that when people give us negative energy and bad vibes to not soak any of that in and understand that it is their struggle for inner peace that causes them to act in such a way. We look for peace, love, serenity, truth, life, beauty everywhere. We travel to the different corners of this world looking for ourselves and we don’t realize that what you need is already within us. You just have to allow yourself to look and accept it. There are so many moments and scenarios we can change just realizing that we can control our reactions and journey.
The next time you walk into a yoga class; think more about how to find yourself and all the things you seek from the outside world and less about achieving a headstand. Close your eyes, imagine the best version of you and let go of any parts of yourself that doesn’t believe it.
Until then, the light in me honors the light in you.