Thursday, December 3, 2009

Exploring the Yoga of Life

Before I came to Kripalu, my Dad asked me why I do yoga. My stock answer is "because everything in my life is better when I do yoga".

And it's true.

I feel better emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I'm calmer and more present, I enjoy things more, I eat better and have more energy. I make better decisions and my mind is clearer.

The other thing I really love about yoga though, is that it's a metaphor for life. On a very real level for me, yoga is life/life is yoga, because it's a way of looking at things, and a way of living.

Kripalu's slogan is "exploring the yoga of life" and I couldn't think of better words to describe why I'm here.

Yes, I'm here to live my yoga.

The yoga that most people are familiar with (asana: postures) is only one part of it, but it is where most people start and is a very important part of the path.

Asana is like practice for life:

We purposely put ourselves in stressful situations (postures that require strength and/or flexibility), to practice dealing with whatever comes up (discomfort, anger, fear, frustration). It brings into focus how we react to situations in daily life. It breaks down our patterns so they're easier to see.

How you are in yoga, is very likely how you are in life.

When your muscles start to quiver, do you immediately back out of the pose? or do you stay steady? Do you push you edge?

If you usually back out, can you stay in? If you usually push, can you back off without judging yourself?

If the teacher guides the class into a pose you've never done, do you sit back and say I can't do that? or do you try it out?

I think my favorite thing about yoga (and it shares this with outdoor adventure activities) is that it allows people to do things they thought they couldn't do.

Which hopefully prompts the question: what else in my life can I accomplish that I think I can't?

Through my experiences as a TRiP leader I saw many students climb a rock they thought was impossible or raft a whitewater river that scared the crap out of them. To see that look of surprised confidence on their faces was the most rewarding part of my job. I'm not a yoga teacher (yet) but I can imagine it's a similar experience.

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