What was your life like before you started practicing yoga? How have you changed as you have spent more time on your mat? Do you remember each little step, each little tiny improvement between then and now? When you look back, can you even see the “old” you? If you can see the “old” you, do you even recognize yourself? And if you’ve come this far, can you even imagine where you are going or where you’ll end up?
The purpose of yoga is to still the habits of the mind so that we can see things as they really are, so we can see the truth. If you’ve been in my practices you’ve probably heard me say that. And what is that truth? That we are all part of the Divine. You’ve heard me say that too.
So if we are all part of the Divine, how do we move through the world? We move towards kindness and compassion. We move towards cheerfulness or at least calmness in adversity. We move towards being fully present in each moment. And any movement, no matter how small, is still movement.
The physical practice of yoga is described as linking movement to breath - we inhale to lengthen, we exhale to soften. Is the emphasis on movement a coincidence? Or is it symbolic of the change that we are bringing in our lives?
Are we perfect? No. We regularly lose it. But we are more aware when that happens. And it happens less often than it used to. The effort that we put in on the mat or seated in meditation may or may not lead us to perfection (whatever that is) in our postures or a perfectly still mind, but perfection in our postures is an unreliable and fleeting measurement. The important thing is that we are moving. When we do finally touch our toes, balance on our arms or lift into headstand for the first time what happens? That’s right . . . nothing.
“If we measure ourselves by the backbends we can do, the arm balances we have mastered, and the flexibility of our hips, we will find ourselves cast adrift the moment we lose any of these attributes.” ~ Donna Farhi, Bringing Yoga To Life.
The reality is that we will lose these “attributes,” if we ever had them in the first place. According to ParaYoga founder and teacher of teachers Rod Stryker, losing these attributes is a natural by-product of aging (as our bodies become more ether-like). As that happens do we eventually become “yoga has-beens?” There is no such thing.
But when we are more kind, more compassionate, more cheerful and calm and more present . . . we experience more happiness, more abundance, more joy. We are living our lives fully. We are moving . . . closer to the truth, to our true nature as part of the Divine.