I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for two and a half years. The physical benefits alone are worth the time and effort: it helps me be flexible, balanced, and strong. The Wii Fit says my age is four years younger than my real age, mostly because my balance and center of gravity are so good. That makes me all the more able to do the things I love, like bike, hike, and dance.
But it’s the other benefits, the ones that don’t have a lot to do with my physical body, that have changed my life.
- I can breathe through any kind of pain: emotional, spiritual, or physical. Ujjayi breathing is a controlled way to take air in and let it out that allows the practitioner to keep life force moving through the body instead of escaping from it during difficult yoga poses. I can’t count the number of times I’ve used ujjayi breath to move through tough confrontations and emotional distress.
- I am capable of doing things I never before would have imagined. Every time I experience a new pose, or refine one based on an instructor’s suggestion and feel my body as if it’s completely new to me, I am filled with wonder and awe. How did I do that? I trusted that I could. I stopped being afraid and moved into the world of possibility.
- It is possible to stop time. I ceased buying into the concept of linear time more than a year ago, when I realized that each moment is its own infinity. Yoga practice encourages me to be fully present in every moment, letting go of all past and future moments. It’s a freedom like no other.
These life lessons have let me feel contentedness, joy, love, and compassion to an extent I never have before. And I know that I’ll keep learning, keep growing, keep discovering. Yoga has become a way of life, and I am grateful for its lessons.