The various limbs of Yoga are the keys to unlocking the doorway to our own divinity. Because they offer ways for us to come back into alignment with the grand cosmic puzzle.. of which we are a single but very important piece.
Some people like to say “threads of tapestry”…. Or “limbs of a body”… or “members of a family”. We’re all saying the same thing. And that Thing (the cosmos, God, consciousness) would be entirely incomplete without us.
Yes, folks. Hear this now. Yoga IS (and always has been) a spiritual practice .. even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Each person reading this knows that their relationship to their Yoga practice is very different than their relationship to other physical movements they engage in or other reflective habits you have.
It’s different than how you feel when you go to CrossFit or .. Pilates or .. dance or .. your run club or .. a team sport you play, or .. your therapists office. Yoga just feels different on the body and mind when you do it… AND after you’re done. And you’ve watched the effects of it spread into other areas of your life.
Even as you read this, just nod your head yes if you’ve had that realization at any point in your yoga tenure.
It’s those moments when you go… ‘hm.. I didn’t react to that situation the way I normally would have.’ You noticed that you didn’t get angry; you didn’t have a panic attack; you didn’t instinctively shut down. Whatever your typical response to the daily frustrations of life or perhaps an adversarial confrontation… you didn’t do the thing. And that… caused you to pause.
Anybody? Let me see those hands Yeah, because, me too. Hi.
For me, it was anxiety. I used to have a really high anxiety baseline. I was super super high strung. I just got upset about everything. Everything hit a button, a chord, ‘the electric fence’ (so to speak). I reacted with startle and anger and frustration to almost every situation. It was horrible. I didn’t want to be like that. I hated how it felt. And…. It was just there. I couldn’t (seemingly) change it. And I hated myself for it because I saw how negatively it impacted the relationships I had and those I hoped to have.
I, sadly wasn’t given the skills early on in life to deal with this, unravel this, talk and communicate about all the things I was feeling and so they just lived inside. And I tried to control them, and sometime I did, but a lot of the time I didn’t. And in my younger adult years, the way I coped when I was tired of controlling them was by drinking and partying. Drinking and partying.. and cigarettes.. and weed. I used each of these as an escape from what I didn’t want to feel.
Then yoga entered my life, and from the moment ‘go’ … I’ve never stopped. Instantly…. It was like cool water on a hot burn. Yoga eased and softened everything going on inside of me, in a single session.
James Martin, S.J. says that “where there’s the presence of peace, there’s the presence of God.”
I really love how simply he puts this impressively impactful nugget wisdom. Where there’s the presence of peace… there’s the presence of God.” (Note: anytime I mention the divine or god please do interpret that in the way you conceptualize this presence.)
For me, that first step into my Yoga practice brought unmistakable peace into my body, and the more I kept the practices up, that peace began to ripple into every other part of my life. For which me and my life are vastly better for.
What about you? Let's try out an exercise.
PRACTICE: Discovering Peace
Begin by taking a comfortable seat, and allow your body to settle in.
Then take 10 deep breaths in and out through your nose.
Next, I want you to think about something going on in your life that requires you to make a decision. Pick something that isn't super clear-cut. Pick something where you've been really weighing all the pros and cons, and looking at this situation from every angle. Could be a new job opportunity, moving to a different city, ending a relationship, something related to your health or medical treatment...or anything else sitting on your heart.
Once you have that in mind, I want you to play out each of your options in your mind. If you chose action A ... how does it feel in your body? If you chose action B... how does it feel in your body? How does B feel differently from A? Allow yourself time to feel your reaction to each of your options.
Finally, which option felt like peace inside of you? Which action felt like cool water on a hot burn? Which one soothed your fears or anxieties? Sit with that and maybe take a few moments and journey (or draw out) your reflections and realizations.
If you give this a try, I'd love to know how it goes. Drop your thoughts in the comment box below.