I have been practising yoga for about seven years now and this year all the yoga philosophies that govern it have started seeping into all the other elements of my life, altering the way I approach problems or issues. As a result yoga has become not just my daily practice but rather a lifestyle.
I remember when I did my teacher training, one of my teachers said that people come to yoga to find happiness. Due to my immaturity – and probably not being unhappy enough – I brushed off that comment quite cynically saying “No one is thinking about that when they come to yoga”. Until now I failed to see how right she actually was.
I recently attended a very gruelling three day advanced dance workshop. I was so excited to be a part of the new choreography from prestigious choreographers and dancers. As the course become more competitive and challenging, I forgot about my eagerness to be challenged and found myself becoming increasingly frustrated when I was unable to perform the choreography to the point of approval. About three hours into the first day of the workshop I found myself solidly unhappy. Eventually at the end of the seven hours, I rolled out my yoga mat in hope of finding some sense of solace, peace, and self love.
While I practised, I found myself letting go of all the build up of frustration and anger towards myself, and just being involved in my practice. I soon came to realise something I wish that I had figured out earlier in the day. I realised the damaging effects of the ego. I noticed how it came to push me away from that which I love so much. I had become so absorbed in being better than everyone else that I forgot the real reason I was there – to enjoy dancing, to be moved by amazing choreography and music. Once that small revelation dawned on me the following two days were lovely. I made it through those three days by simply integrating that which yoga has taught me.
Yoga will mean nothing if we limit it to what happens only on the mat. It is not what you do in the hour of Pranayama, Asana or Meditation, but rather what you take from that hour and incorporate into the rest of your life. By doing so, you become more aware of your actions and how they affect your overall well-being as well as those around you, and more importantly you find a sense of happiness, and peace within yourself.
During your yoga practice, you need to open your mind to understanding yourself in a safe non-judgemental space. You begin to sever your connection with your ego, and become involved in the process of finding yourself, free of the ego and the hundreds of criticisms you throw at yourself. Don’t waste your time by making your practice an hourly stretching session that you do at your incense-filled yoga studio. Make your practice count by carrying the subtle changes you experience in your body, and the lessons you learn about yourself, into everything you do thereafter. By allowing yoga to become your lifestyle, you will indeed find that yoga makes you happier in all that you do. I can now thank my teacher for saying that we come to yoga seeking happiness. She was indeed correct.
Make your practice count.