I am a human, much like you, and that means we are consciousness somehow floating inside a meat sack supported by bones. The mind-body duality maintains the same mystery as it did when the ancient philosophers were thinking about thinking, and then thinking about the relationship of those thoughts to the physical form that contains them. Even though we all have minds and bodies, the complexities keep us in a state of wonderment - and this is why I yoga.
Yoga is what provokes me to examine the awe of existence in both the practical world and the esoteric. There are the physical poses that connect you to your body, but that is just 1 of 8 limbs of yoga. As you explore the full spectrum, yoga becomes a life practice and not just an exercise routine.
Here are my 8 reasons why I yoga:
1. Gets Me Out Of My Own Selfish Head
I don't know about you, but the vast majority of my thoughts are about me. If I am hungry, what I should wear tonight, what I did yesterday, what I am going to do tomorrow. Me, me, me. I think about me all the time and it is the root of misery. The more I think about me, the less happy I am. Yoga reminds me to direct that internal obsession to the external needs of others. The more I prioritize helping those around me and caring about the beings on this planet, the more peace I feel inside myself.
2. Keeps Me Honest
Let's face it. The last thing you want to do when hungover and smelling like stale American Spirits is a Downward Dog. A commitment to my practice keeps me away from making unhealthy and self-destructive decisions.
3. Makes Me Feel Strong
Using my body and improving throughout the years reminds me of how capable I actually am. I don't need someone to help me with my bags, I can move furniture, throw my 35-pound 3 year old in the air, hike mountains, swim across lakes, run far... I don't feel limited by my physical self and that is an empowering state of being.
4. Reminds Me To Breathe
I can't tell you how many times I have almost lost my cool and psychically eviscerated someone who made me mad, but instead took a deep breath and remained calm. The ability to react to aggression with peace has drastically improved my relations with others and decreased my stress. The more I connect to my breath, the clearer I think, and that not only makes me a better person, but also a more patient parent.
5. Keeps Desires In Check
We all have desires that feel dire - when you are like “I need that piece of cake,” or “I must have those yellow suede boots” or “if they don't kiss me right now my face will implode.” Of course in the moment it might seem necessary, but taking a step back to question why you want what you want will remind you that you want a lot less than you think you want.
6. Helps Me Stay Focused
In our modern world we are assaulted with distractions. And now that we have smartphones we have portable units that suck us into a vortex of being anywhere but the present. Come to think of it, when was the last time I emptied my bowels while not looking at Facebook? Every day I have to make a conscious decision to avoid the chaos of modern living and genuinely direct my attention to what is happening in front of my face - whether it's work, chores, or spending time with others. I want to be a person who is actually there living it.
7. Helps Me Deal
Life can really suck. It can be wonderful and beautiful, but it can also totally blow. That is never going to change. You are going to have shitty days, and that is just a part of the human experience. Although we can't control the complications of life, we can control how we deal with and react to these situations. I have been meditating daily now for over 5 years and I have to say it hasn't made my life any easier, but it has made how I cope infinitely better.
8. Connects Me To The Divine
I lost my best friend the same year I started practicing yoga. I was 20 years old and totally devastated by the death of someone who meant so much to me. My mourning was overwhelming and I felt destroyed. The more lost I felt, the more I turned to the teachings of yoga for the answers.
It was during those years that I started to feel the eternal nature of love. How even though my friend was no longer tangibly with me, our connection was boundless. This, I think, was the greatest gift of all.