Over the years, I’ve read or heard people’s stories on how yoga changed their life. Yogis have shared how yoga helped them through a divorce or recover from an eating disorder or through another addiction. I often felt envious of these stories, as crazy as that sounds. I never felt that yoga impacted me in such a dramatic way. Yes, practicing yoga made me feel happier and I often felt better after practicing but I couldn’t relate a huge shift due to practicing yoga.
In class this morning, my teacher shared how one of her daughters got injured and how she handled the situation very calmly. She said she was able to be so calm because of yoga. It made me think, yet again, if there was anything that I could attribute to yoga other than my defined shoulders (my teacher commented on the muscle tone in my shoulders but honestly, I just have wide shoulders).
As I practiced, I realized that while I could not, at this time, come up with something big and dramatic, yoga has positively affected my life in subtle and not so subtle ways:
1) I am a much happier person (usually) after I practice.
2) Yoga introduced me to India. And some pretty amazing yoga teachers. And the Yoga Sutras and the Gita. And Sanskrit. And Hindu gods and goddesses such as Ganesha and Kali. Jai! And the positive effects lululemon wunder unders. Hell, even my husband, is thrilled with that discovery.
3) Practicing yoga in a group setting, whether it is at one of my local studios or in Times Square during the Summer Solstice (I am so very excited to participate again on Friday) or during a jam packed class at the Yoga Journal Conference, makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than me, a community, a sangha, even if I never see these people again.
4) Yoga has taught me about santosha, aka, contentment. I do my best to incorporate ahimsa, the act of non-violence through my thoughts, words and deeds in my life. I try to cultivate the practice of non-attachment (and it’s hard. Really, really hard). Learning about karma, spending hours discussing karma during my yoga teacher training, changed the way I viewed life. Karma makes sense to me (most of the time). Yoga has provided me some guidelines, or the yamas and niyamas, as a way to live a happier life. I grew up believing in the 10 Commandments but the yamas and niyamas just feel different to me.
5) Yoga has also aided in my self realization. Despite my attempts to practice non-attachment, I am attached to certain “spots” in a yoga class, mainly being towards the back and against the wall. I often force myself to be in the front but still against the wall. I need to slowly work myself to practice sandwiched between other students (gasp). My mind often wanders during yoga class. I compare myself to others. Yoga has made it clear to me that I have tight hamstrings but strong shoulders and I can get into crow.
Yoga has probably affected me in more ways than I even realize. Does it even matter, though? Yoga makes me feel good. It helps keep me calm and sane. Everything else is just icing on the cake.