My yoga practice is a journey—and each day, I learn something new.
The most significant thing that yoga has taught me is that I can do the same thing in similar ways every day and still make new discoveries simply by being one with the experience and opening to whatever it has to offer.
Although yoga may appear to some to be mostly a physical exercise, it is far more challenging emotionally and mentally, than it is physically.
Yoga gently invites me to delve into the inner workings of my mind and to explore the unresolved and unhealed emotions, thoughts, and feelings dormant deep inside my heart.
Although my physical appearance changes, my internal self goes through far more drastic changes than anything that is physically visible.
I have learned that yoga is not about perfection; it is about emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical transformation and progression.
Even when I have taken a break from practicing or when I’m not feeling 100 percent, yoga asks for nothing and provides me with all that I need in those moments.
Yoga helps me relax not only my body, but also my mind. I am an over-thinker, and yoga invites me to calmly process the persistent chattering that seems to have taken permanent residence in the back of my mind.
When I’m hurting physically or emotionally, yoga erodes the pain by directing my attention to the root cause. All too often, my physical pain is only a manifestation of the emotional pain I’ve been feeling. The instant I’m gentler and more compassionate to myself, the aching diminishes and is replaced with serenity and softness.
I’ve learned through yoga that when something hurts, it’s a sign to alter what I’m doing. Whether it’s a pose, a limiting thought, or a harmful belief I’ve found myself entangled in, the moment pain arises is the moment I pay attention to what is causing the suffering, so I can either change my posture, perception, or plans.
Yoga does not encourage me to avoid pain; instead, it enhances my awareness, so that I feel into the pain and discomfort, and then seek alternate ways of achieving the same result. This usually means slowing down and being patient with myself so that I do not rush headfirst into something I am either physically, emotionally, or mentally not quite ready for.
I have found that I do not need to devote a certain amount of time to yoga or practice at specific times each day. Yoga is within me, and even when I do not roll out my mat, I am at one with it whenever I eat, think, feel, move, or talk.
Yoga is not defined by the classes I take, by labeled clothing, or by my body shape. Yoga is the breath I take, the toxicity I forsake, and the choices I consciously make.
One of the most vital lessons I am always learning from yoga is that whenever I try to force something, I also cause myself suffering. If my body will not bend and stretch the way I want it to, I relax and remind myself that warriors know when it is time to push forward and when it is time to retreat. I apply this same concept to all areas of my life.
I have learned through yoga to listen carefully to my body and mind, which heightens my intuition, my inner compass. Through introspection, I have found ways to trust when I am being guided from a place of love or when I feel cautioned due to irrational fear—so that I can locate the source and transcend past it.
Mostly, yoga has taught me that as much as I think I know about yoga, there is always something more to learn. I am yoga’s student, and the minute I think I’ve reached a destination, the bar lifts a little higher, and I find I am capable of moving, stretching, and opening my body, mind, and heart a little more.
Yoga reminds me that I am in a constant state of metamorphosis. Therefore, the person I may have thought I was five minutes ago may be entirely different to who I am about to become. I do not need to remain the same to satisfy my own or any other person’s expectations.
As much as it might feel safe to stay where things feel familiar, I understand that much of life is filtered by illusions, and the only way to reach a place of authenticity and harmony is by accepting that I am not just one personality, with one style, one way of expressing myself, and with only one desire for my future life.
I am an unlimited amount of thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, hopes, dreams, goals, preferences, and intentions.
I am touched by yoga and touched by life. Every imprint that is left on me irrevocably changes me on the inside or out.
Through yoga, I have found how to be fully alive and have discovered deep self-love and absolute acceptance of my flaws, frailties, faults, insecurities, and all.
Yoga alters me, and I am grateful and embrace this constant change.
Author: Alex Myles
Image: Unsplash/Chris Ensey
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina