You come along to a yoga class, do a bit of breathing, some physical poses, some relaxation, and that’s it, right? Maybe you get a little bit more flexible and feel less stressed for an hour. But that’s not the end of the story. When you’ve done yoga regularly for a while you discover that it has much deeper, life-enhancing, life-changing effects. It is surprising, actually, and feels a little bit like magic.
This magic is not exclusive. It doesn’t happen to a lucky few. It happens to everyone who commits to a regular practice. Yoga goes beyond the physical, beyond relaxation, to …
- Create pervading contentment and calm despite circumstances
- Unveil your true self from beneath the fog of stress, and being caught up in the past and/or the future
- Increase your intuition. Yoga removes stress, allows you to be present, connect with the intuitive responses in your physical body, and remove the ‘noise’ that gets in the way of ‘hearing’ or tapping into your intuition.
- Allow you to be more connected with your body and what is going on inside you
- Allow you to better connect with those around you, and be fully present in your relationships and interactions with people
- Allow you to approach people and situations in a magnanimous way
- Increase your focus on what really matters
- Allow you to let go of disappointment
- Allow you to let go of fears, needs and desires (It creates true freedom)
- Create mindfulness (and much of this magic depends on living purely in the moment). When meditating it feels like you are sitting there doing nothing, but what you are doing is essential for life. In the stillness, we connect with ourselves and the moment; we feel that we are truly alive.
What I’m about to say is important because so many people focus primarily on whether they can do or can’t do the asana physical poses in a yoga class. Since beginning to teach, I have discovered there are always class members who apologise for “not being very good”, or don’t come back because they feel like they “can’t do it”.
It’s important to understand that yoga is not about being able to “do” poses; yoga is a personal journey, not a destination, but if you don’t come back you are missing out on a little bit of magic that happens to those who say “I can’t”.
I can remember my first few yoga classes, when it felt like I couldn’t hold my arms in the air for more than a few seconds during the Warrior poses and when it felt like I couldn’t fold forward at all from staff pose to intense stretch to the West. Some people feel like they will never be able to touch their toes. Some people feel like they will never be able to even sit cross-legged or sit back on their heels. All I can say about this is: suddenly you can do it. Suddenly you can touch your toes, suddenly you can do that free-standing headstand. Suddenly, it happens.
Similarly, you feel like there’s no escape from your busy mind, running a million miles a minute, but somewhere in the middle of the class, there you are focusing purely on the pose you are doing. It’s happened without you even thinking about it, even for just a moment.
Yoga is transformative … for everyone. I may sound like a religious nut, but there’s no out-there mystic airy fairy palaver here. I can guarantee that regular yoga practice produces magical effects.
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Alice Through the Looking Glass