This week in classes I have focused on the subject of growth. How do you know that you are growing in your yoga practice? I asked students to think back to the first time they came to the mat and compare the current experience to that first experience. We considered the increased strength and flexibility as well as other, more difficult to measure, changes. Following our 7pm Wednesday evening class, one of our students, Angela, looked at me and stated “January 13, 2007”. This is the date of her “yoga birthday” which she celebrates each year. If you talk with her, your will discover that she has clearly identified ways in which her practice has enhanced her life experience.
In our physical practice, we practice awareness of the sensations of the body and respond appropriately to those sensations. When we feel a sensation in the hamstring that feels beneficial, a “good stretch” we lean into it, breath into it, enjoy it. When the sensation is too much, we back away from it. When we begin to apply the same concept to other areas of our lives we see changes beyond the physical body.
We begin to eat mindfully. We notice how we are feeling when we eat certain foods. Some make us feel good and healthier. Other foods drain us, make us uncomfortable and feel less well. When eating mindfully, we tend to consume foods that make us feel well and resist those that do not. Not only do we become aware of how foods make us feel but we begin to notice more about our food, we become less detached from the processes and consider how our food is grown and treated and develop preferences from that knowledge as well.
- We begin to choose recreational activities that are beneficial to us spiritually. Prior to a mindful yoga practice, we may not have noticed the relationship between our actions and how we feel. For example, watching a certain type of movie or television show may us feel irritable or anxious. Time with a particular person may lead us to feel less satisfied with ourselves. When living mindfully we begin to notice connections between our actions and how we feel. Progress on the mat allows us to be more at ease with the true self because we are leaning into right actions, with regard to postures, food, relationships, activities, even whether watching the daily news is helpful or harmful to you
- We begin to notice a spiritual connection with the true self, or perhaps simply open up to the concept that we each have a “true self”, one that may be different than previously viewed. We develop more confidence in the inner voice (your truth) and are less swayed by others and by prior conditioning.
- In time, we experience fewer conflicts in our relationships as we grow in acceptance of ourselves and in turn others. We develop an awareness of our connection to each other, recognizing that we are all truly connected. With this knowledge we find a greater sense of community and less conflict.
Enjoy the physical challenges the mat offers and apply the lessons off the mat. Much love and light to each of you as you grow in this beautiful practice.
If you haven’t yet experienced the practice of yoga, we welcome you to join us at Mindful Motion Yoga in Jacksonville, FL or contact us for a recommendation of a great yoga studio in your area.