Yoga: An Overview
My Journey to Peace, Confidence, Freedom and Purpose
Yoga: An Overview
Yoga is where I find my truest self. My time on my mat is when I am finally able to breathe, release anxiety, focus, move and truly be who I am, unapologetically. Until I began my yoga practice, I dealt with serious anxiety and fear; I felt like the weight of the world was sitting on my shoulders and there was nothing I could do to make it move. It was only until I found yoga that I began to see a true change in my anxiety and overall happiness in life.
Everyone's yoga practice is unique and personal to the practitioner. Each yogi hits his or her mat for different reasons, for different purposes, breathing in and out different intentions, and challenging their mind and body for various reasons- but they're each equally beautiful and powerful. For me, at this point in my yoga journey, I have identified the impact my practice has had on my mind, body and spirit by four elements: Peace, Confidence, Freedom and Purpose.
Peace: Yoga is equally as releasing as it is filling.
When I’m moving on my mat, my body is able to express its fluidity, its beauty and its power more fully than in any other space I've found. It’s on my mat where I find peace and feel safe. Before I even move my body, I have the opportunity to truly breathe, sometimes for the first time in my day. I am able to release through an exhale breath the sadness, hardships, difficulties and anxiety of my day then breathe in an inhale of fresh new perspective, finding focus and purpose with the inching expansion of my lungs. This time on my mat, the time when we set aside a few moments to find stillness and just breathe, is the most important and influential part of my entire yoga practice. It's in this space I find peace.
Confidence: Yoga has given me boldness and strength.
Throughout my yoga journey, yoga has brought me stability in mind and motion as I’ve learned to consciously link my thoughts and breaths to movement. Yoga has allowed me to discover what I am naturally good at and what my body was naturally built to succeed in doing. By nature, I have great balance, muscle strength, flexibility and determination. This shines through when I challenge myself to try asanas that are new and challenging to me. It’s when I find myself attempting to hit a new arm balance, balancing in tree, or even when I am charging into dancer and need to kick harder, breathe deeper, focus longer and hold for a few more breaths where I see tangible improvement in my boldness to ‘go for it’ and strength to hold it once I do. It’s in those deep moments where my muscles are burning and my thoughts are racing that I can stare at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I am good enough, I am strong enough, I am able to do whatever I tell my body to do; And then push myself to do it. It's in this space that I find boldness and strength.
Freedom: Yoga has given me an outlet to be myself.
One of the most helpful ideas that was introduced to me in the yoga studio is the concept of taking what serves me and leaving what doesn’t. For the majority of my life, I have taken the good with the bad and let both define and control my thoughts and emotions. It was only until I heard this statement that I finally felt the freedom to mess up and still have confidence of knowing that on my mat I wouldn’t be labeled, identified or judged by my ‘failure’. That one statement has released me from perfection and has helped me overcome my fear of failure by accepting failure and letting it go. I’ve come to understand that with every inhale and exhale breath I take, both on my mat and off, I have the opportunity to try new things, become a new person, experience new thoughts and feelings and then exhale every one of those elements that don’t serve me or bring value to my life. It's in this space that I find freedom.
Purpose: Yoga has challenged and encouraged my personal faith.
The very idea of inhaling and exhaling the old and the new centers me on one of my favorite Bible verses that states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). My faith is one of my most cherished elements of my life and yoga has beautifully encouraged it as I have finally found a practice that incorporates movement, meditation, insightful thought and community. Yoga provides me with moments of stillness, allowing myself time to think and meditate and challenge myself to strive in each area of my life to be the woman I believe God has made me to be; Every day, every time I hit my mat. It's in this space, I am reminded of my purpose.
Yoga: An Outtro
Ready to start or deepen your practice? Go! Do it. Whether it's the practice of yoga or something entirely different, devote time to the thing that fuels and drives you, gives you peace and stillness, can serve as your outlet, inspires and encourages you and reminds you of your purpose. It'll bring you more than you ever thought you could bring to it.
Happy flowing, friends!