Yoga’s ancient origins stem from the very spiritual, Himalayas of India, with some saying that it is as old as 10,000 years. For many of us in the West we believe that it is a practice designed for the health of the body and as a bonus calms the mind. The truth is that it was originally, given to humankind as a tool for spiritual evolution.
The soul is our deepest core as a being, and when we put emphasis on the health and evolution of our soul, our outer layers become healthy also. One could say that we shine from the inside, out. A ripple effect.
When we begin to look at Yoga as a spiritual practice, and begin to apply a spiritual mindset to our practice, the practice and its benefits are intensified dramatically.
In a yoga class, you will often hear the teacher talking about releasing any thought and coming back to the breath or back to the body. What you are actually doing is bringing your consciousness back into the now, the present moment. What this is doing is releasing the ego and coming back to pure experience.
As you move through your practice, bring your mind back to the breath and also remember to observe the experience within your body.
Too often, I see yoga in the West becoming about acrobatics and how good your bum can look in a pair of tights. We get obsessed with form and alignment. “Look at me bend myself into a pretzel.”
We are forgetting one of the most fundamental parts of yoga and that is to experience the posture! Yoga is not about how you look, because you cannot see yourself! And that would be feeding our ego if we could, or truly, deeply cared.
The focus should be, how you feel when you place your body in this way. What is tight? What feels good? When you exhale your breath does your body move deeper? Is your left or right side tighter?
I have a dear friend of mine who is scarred from a bad yoga experience and now believes that she “can’t do yoga”. (Which is nonsense because even if you are limbless there is still a yoga for you!)
The teacher gave her grief because her downward dog was not perfect. But when I examined her in this posture I observed that she had bone compression in her shoulders. You can loosen muscles but you cannot loosen bone.
My friend’s downward dog will never look like the perfect models on Instagram, but its not about how the posture looks to others, it is about how it FEELS to her.
If her alignment is the best that she can do and she feels a lovely stretch and some strength in her muscles, great. If she is able to get lost in the moment, feeling her body, observing her breath and maybe even connecting to her version of God or peace, she’s nailing it!
The truth is no matter how much yoga one person practices, you may never become the bendiest or the stretchiest. As discussed, the main objective of yoga is not for the body, it is for the soul.
Let us consider that the body is temporary and the soul is infinite. If yoga was originally made as a spiritually enlightening practice, what do you think is important?
So, to sum it all up, you don’t need to be flexible to practice yoga – practice yoga to become flexible! You do not need to be slim, you do not need to be bendy and you don’t even need to wear tight, sexy sportswear. You just need to be on your mat, ready to make some time for yourself. For your highest good. Self-respect and self-love.
20 minutes, 90 minutes or 2 hours… its all good baby, just do it.