Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Some people hear the word “Yoga” and they automatically shut down the idea of trying it out! I hear people say things like; I am not in shape enough, not flexible enough, not “spiritual" enough. I’m self conscious of my body, or I don’t have cute enough yoga attire… I have even heard someone say recently that they do not like their toes, so they don't want to go to a class where you must be barefoot! It is easy to be self-conscious in a world of unrealistically photoshopped media. The true purpose of yoga is a lot deeper than just exercise, stretching or looking good. Yoga is simply there to help you feel more present and connected to oneness. I always say my favorite part of yoga is when I forget what I look like because I am so present in the experience.
I also get self conscious about how my body looks from time to time. After all, I am a yoga teacher, shouldn't I be in the best shape of my life living off of green juice and veggies?! No, I recently retook my teacher training and it helped me to remember that the most powerful part of doing yoga is when my outlines blur and my ego fades away. When the ego and the mind get out of the way it reveals the peace and tranquility hiding underneath. We are not separate from nature and those around us, we are all connected to this intricate web of life.
When we say “The light in me honors the light in you that is the same, Namaste.” We are recognizing that underneath all the layers of personality, race, age gender, sexual orientation, occupations, fears, and perspectives. There is something universal life force energy within us. It can be the universe, God, nature, science, Spirit, a soul or whatever word or idea resonates with you. You can be of any belief system to practice yoga.
This feeling of complete connectedness to the present moment is not limited to just your yoga mat. You can experience this doing other things you love, like gardening, painting, making music, reading, walking in nature, swimming… Or even just sipping a cup of tea and looking out the window. I am feeling the glow of yoga as I write this blog. The purpose of yoga is to have a more peaceful, present, healthy life on and off the mat. This way, all the little moments of life can have more depth. awareness, sacredness and love if we choose. Peace and presence can even exist during the routine parts of life. It's found in moments of driving to work, eating breakfast, or sending emails. Yoga creates more space in life to simply be. Animals are magically present and aware. They are not thinking of tomorrow, they are simply here and now living. We can look at animals as a role model of being present.
We see beautiful men and women doing intricate, graceful poses while they are in amazing shape on Instagram and on T.V. constantly. It is easy to get caught up in the outer appearance of yoga. For this reason, I like to ask my new students; “Do you know the difference between yoga and dance?” We discuss this until I tell them… In dance the goal is to create beautiful shapes in the body as an art form for self expression and entertainment. In yoga the goal is to get into the pose and be completely aware of the sensations of the body and the breath. Yoga is not a performance or competition, it is a personal practice. In yoga, It is important to love and accept exactly what our bodies are capable of right now. Only after we accept where we are, we can make improvements. Once the mind is clear, it is easier to connect to our inner peace and that which we truly are.
This article is a friendly reminder that the true meaning of yoga is creating a more peaceful life. Yoga is far more inclusive than it might seem. If you are reading this, I hope you can gracefully sashay past any limiting beliefs you may have about trying yoga. You can experience the transcendence that yoga has to offer if you choose. You can start experimenting by trying different studios, types of yoga, YouTube videos, retreats, workshops or investing in a private yoga instructor to guide you. Starting with a private yoga teacher is great because you can build up you confidence and learn how to get properly aligned before going to a public class. Even Though it may not always feel like it, peace is within your reach. Please remember, if you can breathe, you can do yoga.
Sarah-Louise Rossi of
Private Yoga Flagstaff