One of the striking things about yoga is that, unlike most other approaches to self-development, you learn how to realise the full potential of your mind, body and spirit via one synchronising practice. It illuminates every aspect of who and how you are. It’s a unifying and unified process, and one where the effects are shaped entirely by you. There is very little you need other than to find time and space to practice with an open mind. Yes, there’s a structure to follow, guidance on how to anatomically align, techniques for channelling the breath to calm the mind, and an artfully crafted system of thought rooted in ancient wisdom that can lead you through mental and physical challenges to greater things.
“A person who falls on the earth, stumbling on a stone, will stand up by means of the same earth they fell on. You complain because you think earth is the problem, having caused your fall. Without the earth you wouldn’t fall, but you wouldn’t stand up either. Falling and standing up are both great aids given to you by the earth. Because of Mother Earth you can continue your practice.” - Shunryu Suzuki
Ultimately, the practice and the benefits come down to one simple thing: you. Your commitment, your discipline, your patience and perseverence.
Strip back the different styles, the postures, breathing techniques and the millions of words written about it and yoga too, is fundamentally about one simple thing: transformation.
Each time we practice is a chance to harness our energy and our focus with precision and care so as to move towards becoming a better version of ourselves, for our own sake (to live with joy and purpose), and for the sake of others (good vibes spread), and for the sake of the worlds we inhabit (yoga fosters connection, inside and out).
The mat being a microcosm for the world, when we transition from our mat into the wider world, we do so with a greater sense of composure, calm, strength and resolve. Qualities that carry through from yoga practice into all realms of life.
Yoga teaches you to be an active participant in life: by working from the outer layer inwards, fine tuning the body as an instrument via which to tame the mind, you learn to observe and respond to what you feel rather than running away from or numbing it. To trust your own experience and sensations rather than be duped by negative thought loops or the judegements of others.
It can be a challenging and frustrating process, but that’s half the point - the lessons are in the transitions from a state of difficulty and striving, to effortlessness and ease. Practice and the progress will come. Continue and positive changes will transpire.
Yoga is a lifetime’s journey that never ends. That’s one of the reasons I love it. There’s always more to learn, further to go, more stillness you can find within yourself, deeper places to dive to, to linger in, to leap from.