Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one’s being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union – the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions. –B.K.S. Iyengar
A regular yoga practice can provide a wealth of mental, physical and spiritual benefits. From greater strength and flexibility to lowered blood pressure to increased mental focus, many opportunities exist for enhancing health within yoga’s positive, non-forceful approach.
I started practicing yoga in 2006 after an emergency appendectomy. Post surgery, I had to sleep on the couch upstairs in our tiny lakeside cottage because going up the spiral staircase from the bedroom below was too hard. I ate tiny bits of soup, cleaned the surgical wound regularly, read a lot of books and lamented the fact that my usual modes of exercise just weren’t possible. Turns out they don’t recommend trail running and cross-country skiing after a semi-major surgery, albeit a pretty routine one. I was supposed to lay pretty low, and that wasn’t what I was used to. I like to move.
Not knowing what else to do, I remembered an old yoga DVD that somebody gave me for Christmas a few years back. I popped it into the player and moved through the motions in my dark little spare room awkwardly – in hindsight, yoga probably wasn’t an awesome choice for helping an abdominal wound to heal, but hey, it healed so I guess that’s water under the bridge at this point. I missed getting my heart rate up, to be sure. But I kept popping the DVD into the player and I kept spending those 32 minutes in my dark little spare room bending and breathing with intention until I was feeling up to running again. Something about the flow of breath tied to movement, however gentle, kept my “can’t function w/out my daily workout” itch from making me miserable.
So my introduction to yoga wasn’t profound, or formal, or even a very good story. But the impact that yoga has had on my wellbeing over the last 10 years is anything but. Yoga has provided a space to land when nothing else was holding my weight. Yoga has gotten me through a natural childbirth. Yoga has provide hours of entertainment as my toddler tries her own variations of warrior two. Yoga has invited a calm and centered start to my day, and yoga has absorbed the stress of a hectic week. Yoga has gifted me with strength, flexibility and balance and yoga doesn’t care if I fall. Yoga doesn’t demand anything but my presence and gives back everything that I give, and then some.
What’s your yoga story? How might you use the pending spring to explore how yoga and other self- care practices can support your wellbeing?
Image: Matty Stevenson, Flickr/CC 2.0