People often ask: What’s the big deal about Yoga anyway? They wonder what makes it such a mental, emotional and even spiritual practice. Isn’t it just another form of physical activity that enhances strength, flexibility and balance?
So, here is my humble opinion on how it works.
Let’s say that it actually was intended to be only those things......physical activity that increases your strength, flexibility and balance. You attempt to gain these attributes on a 6’x2’ piece of rubberish material and you do not leave that spot for 60 - 75 minutes. In many classes your heart rate increases quite a bit and you sweat your ass off that entire time, still confined to a mat that is about the size of an average male and while doing a sequence of precise movements that come together like a beautiful dance. Guess what? That is going to, at some point, become emotional or mental or both. It might not be the first time or even the tenth time you do Yoga, but eventually it is going to happen. You are going to realize things about your body and thus yourself.
You may want to realize these things.
You may not want to realize these things.
You are GOING TO realize these things.
If that doesn’t do it, how about this: You will attempt many times to stand on one leg for roughly 30 seconds and then maybe move slowly to another one-legged pose without touching down in between. While you are on one leg you are going to twist in the direction of that leg. Then you are going to attempt all of that again on the other side. Still, you are on a 6’x2’ piece of . . . basically . . . plastic. What the frigaroni hell is this?
Do you think that isn’t going to tap into some of your shit? It will. You will find out a lot about yourself when you try to do things like this with your body. You will find out how easily or not easily you give up. You will find out how well you tolerate or don’t tolerate discomfort. You will find out if you believe in yourself, if you like yourself, if you are hard or soft, pissed off or close to tears.
. . . and eventually - you are going to grow from all of it!
. . . but let’s say you don’t. This is quite unlikely, but let’s just pretend. Let’s assume that the physical practice of Yoga does not stimulate the mental, emotional or spiritual parts of you.
Well then - your Yoga instructor will.
We are not only trained to help pull those pieces out of you . . . we instinctively know how, because it happened to us! We say things during your practice that land in your heart and on your mind. We say things that land in your belief system and on your soul. We say things like: “Where are you holding tension?”
. . . and you think we’re talking about your hips but then we say:
“Can you let go? Can you forgive?”
That’s when you know we’re not really talking about your hips.
We say things like: “Breathe. When everything else seems to be falling apart, you always have your breath.”
We say things like: “Trust. Hope. Peace. Love. Reach forward. Reach up. Reach joY.”
All of this happens when you are surrounded by quiet or maybe the most amazing music . . . and scents and light and even many times - the actual hands of your instructor at the base of your neck, down your spine, pressed into the bottom of your foot.
Then, at the end, you just lie on your back and rest. Not one thing in the world is expected of you for those final minutes other than rest. It is all about you.
So . . . THAT’S what’s the big deal about Yoga anyway!