I fell in love with yoga when I realized how much it focused on mental health. It was the first time that I felt permission to feel my body instead of change it. Yoga was never supposed to be about crafting the perfect muscles or getting a crazy sweat, but about managing your mind and connecting inwards.
I fell in love with yoga when I realized true health is not about how you look, but about how you feel. Facing our fears, being honest with our insecurities, and challenging habitual thoughts – is the hard stuff. Yoga made me look at that, instead of my abs. For the first time in my life I was asked to mold my insides instead of my outsides and I loved how inclusive that felt. Yoga was never supposed to be about aesthetics.
I fell in love with yoga when I realized how drawn I was to attending classes and that it never felt like a chore. I almost always left a studio with more energy than when I came and learned that exercise is not supposed to drain you, but fill you up, inspire you, and guide you. Yoga is about healing, whatever healing means to you.
Lastly, I fell in love with yoga when I realized the practice never ends and if you accept that, you reach a state of neutrality so hard to find in the Western world. You become content when you understand there is no destination, but a path, continuous and turning that is meant just for you to follow. No one else gets to change it, but you, and no one else gets to have it, but you.
The principles of yoga are easily translated into everyday life. Accepting the nature of change and uncertainty each time you step on the mat reminds you that, like most things in life, being happy is not a task you can check off your list, it is an evolved experience destined for peaks and valleys. Emotions of all kinds are fleeting, the present moment is all we truly have, and loving yourself is the only way to ever love someone else. We get to accept these things when we practice yoga. We get to see our scary parts. We get to question the societal beliefs so entrenched in our muscles and hearts. We get to see there’s more than one way to “be.”
Yoga offers much more than a nice stretch and calm environment. It provides you with the sanctuary to know yourself.
Whether you’ve spent years in the practice or are just getting started I invite you to dig deep in your next session. Take it slow. Grab props and light candles and breathe. Leave your apple watch on the table. Yoga is not just another workout, it is a reset for the mind. As much as you give to it, it will give back.