The Importance of Yoga
What is the importance of yoga ?
It sounds like a useless question. Today, yoga is a familiar name to most and its wellness benefits are increasingly praised by the latest research. Even those who are only familiar with the name still come to my classes saying “I want to be more flexible” and more importantly, “ I just want to feel better”.
Yes, the importance of yoga lies in rejuvenated feeling with which the practice provides. Most of the time we cannot explain why this happens, as my dear friend from Hong Kong would say after each class, but we know the power is transforming. I experienced moments of tears rolling down my cheeks in cow-face posture, I felt anxiety attacks in plough and I felt fury leaving the class after the second forward bend.
So what is it what makes us feel so great or so charged after a yoga class? What makes the yoga important to us, and especially in today’s modern world?
Let’s examine the obvious: yoga is important because it stretches your body, regulates your breath, and calms your mind. After a few weeks or months of practice you will find out that your body is more elastic, feeling lighter and sleeping deeper.
If you further the practice, you will experience yoga to heightened level than more than mere gymnastics. You stop overeating and and curve your diet. Junk food no longer attractive to you.. well, at least most of the time. More importantly, a natural relaxation state is induced in Savasana, so why to indulge in alcohol? Personally, I can even testify to the effects of nicotine addiction– I quit.
Then you continue to practice a little bit deeper. Maybe you participate in aweekend workshop, or a weeks’ retreat. This is when the self-searching begins. You question why instead of practicing asanas throughout the day, you are sitting, listening and answering some provoking, personal questions. Did you really pay all this money to write how will be your life in six months? If there are some people in your life that you need to forgive? If you have too much responsibility on your shoulders? Do you really need to listen the complaints of your roommate while eating a vegetarian diet in lieu of a glass of wine? However, you manage to make it through the day without strangling your neighbor when he screams across the table asking you “why do you react like this? Do you have some self esteem issues?”.
You may leave and feel terrible, but it is crucial to realist your journey for self-exploration has just started. In other words, as one yogi friend wrote me, “you just found the great way how to meet yourself!” The alternative is to just give up and never come back.
All this doesn’t really matter. It is not important where you are right now in your exploration of the yogic path. It is important you are in it. Something happens in your physical body, energetically body, emotional body, in your opinions and in your beliefs. You feel alive for whatever reason… in yoga class, in your commute and in everyday life.
This reason is why yoga resounds for me. I move for sure, but I love the stillness of the practice. I feel good when I can catch myself in anger or judgment; now I see it before I react. I love to see myself happy, and especially for no reason. I love to feel Love pouring out of my system, and expecting nothing back.
Most importantly, I do not associate myself anymore with what I do or how I look. I do not associate my worth with materialistic trivialities or professional accomplishments.I do not allow others to make me feel appropriate, loved, valuable… or any other emotion. And if it happens, it does not last for long!
I take responsibility for my own choices, blaming nobody for what is happening in my life. I’m able to watch my mind playing its little games and leave it there. Through my practice, I feel compassion, love or equanimity instead of anger, fear or anxiety.
In my personal experience, we are able to go through minor and major traumas of our life with sometimes shaking hands but stable in foundation. We cultivate an observer attitude, and walk towards the spontaneous discovery of non-separateness. It is the sweetness that nobody can teach us; we have to live it, feel it, and be it. Like a love at first sight, there is nothing to be explained or analyzed. It IS.
And once we experience it, we live the in liberating and empowering fearlessness called FREEDOM.
By Misa Derhy, Norm Breaker