What it means + how to practice it
Yoga is many things to many people. Each of us step onto the mat from our own unique path and bring with us our own intentions.
But across all these different interpretations, at the very roots of yoga is a practical path of healing. The practice of yoga, and its eight workable limbs, is a methodology for accessing our spiritual existence. it is a study of, not only the body, but also the mind, emotions, energy and spirit. The physical practice is often the first step, the doorway in: Through the physical practices, we prepare ourselves to explore the more subtle realms of our existence.
Yoga is a lens by which we can see ourselves more clearly: the patterns of our minds, the habits of our bodies, and the fluctuations of our emotional and energetic frequencies.
Through observation of self, you are able to transcend the habitual existence and create a new reality in which to live: one consciously grounded in love, trust and acceptance.
Healing is a process of going inward and observing what’s there. It is begins with observation and moves to acceptance. Through total + complete acceptance, of everything as it is, you set the stage for change to take place. There is this really important distinction between healing and fixing. In healing, we go inward to observe our mind, emotions, energy, spirituality without necessarily needing to do anything except simply observe.
We are able to gain a better awareness of self by paying deep attention without needing to change what we find.
Yoga, especially the quieter practices of restorative, yin yoga and meditation, allow for practitioners to build our emotional resilience and emotional intelligence.
It is important to recognize that we tend to prioritize critical thinking and analytical mind in our culture. our thinking mind serves a very important role, yes, But developing our emotional intelligence, the way we interact with and understand our internal state of feeling, is equally important in navigating our way around this life.
When you allow the physical practice to take you deeper inside, you are able to see your self more clearly as we are. The yoga postures, the breathing techniques, the relaxation and suggestions for taking care of your body off the mat- these are all steps towards to practice accessing a deeper state of awareness and connection beyond the physical realm.
Within the safety your yoga practice, you can explore the perceived limitations of your minds and bodies and learn to discern between the difference of the two. You practice to being present with your self through the broad spectrum of experiences, and through each experience, discover a lesson.
There's so much to say! But I did my best to distill it down:
Here are Six concepts to connect to on your own path to healing:
1. Simply Observe:
Our existence (physical body, thoughts, hormones, mood, emotion, surroundings) are in a constant state of fluctuation. Rather than looking for everlasting happiness (which by definition doesn’t exist), its much more attainable, and enjoyable, to seek presence and acceptance in whatever comes our way. Rather than attempting to cherry pick the good experiences and avoid the bad, the practice is about shifting your perspective to instead control your response instead of your situation. Expect the ebbs and flows, internally and external,y and learn to observe them with trust and patience.
2. Practice radical acceptance
Change can only occur from accepting and understanding the current state. This is often the most courageous step: taking an honest inventory of where you are right now through you body, mind and soul. But once you find the courage to really look at and accept yourself, you’ll notice that change has already starting taking place simply by the process of acceptance. Rather than thinking about healing as fixing, we can now think about it as observing and accepting. Through acceptance, you shift out of your conditioned responses to pain and discomfort, which are typically denial, avoidance or distraction and learn to sit with the discomfort as it surfaces without reacting to or resisting it.
3. Become your own wisest teacher
As you observe and accept, you will accumulate a deeper base of knowledge and wisdom about our own existence; past, present and future. There are so many amazing resources, healers and clinical professionals that can help us along are way, but ultimately each of us must ' do the work' ourselves to integrate what we learn and receive from the outside world. I like to think of healing as a life-long science experiment on yourself. Always trying, learning, exploring, being curious about what works, what doesn't, where we can change, grow and evolve.
4. Allow it to take time
Healing is not linear. Growth is not linear. It's not instant. It's messy. It's often uncomfortable and even scary at times. Often two steps forward, one step back. The only criteria is to begin and then continue and unfortunately, you can't really rush the process. There's no fast-forward button: the only way out is through. Don't give up on yourself, ever, even if it seems like your progress is non-existent. There is always progress when there is intention, but takes time until it becomes visible and tangible. Trust the process, trust the timing and keep taking little, tiny steps in the directions of your healing.
5. Practice being wrong
One of my favorite pieces of advice is "Accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher." Its easy to become attached to our own practices and definitions of our self and what has worked of us in the past. But now we understand that everything within us and around us is in a constant state of fluctuation. So we must always be open to being wrong, to new truths and to changing our mind. Being wrong, not knowing the answer and failure are necessary ingredients in the recipe for evolution.
6. Make Peace with Your Past
As we turn inward, we become aware of how often we are living in a reaction to the past or in anticipation of the future. In order to heal our past, we need to observe it and see it for it for what it was. We are not responsible to the painful things we've experienced in the past, but we are responsible for how we process that pain as adults. Observe, accept, forgive, release. repeat. By doing this, we are able to stop living in fear (that the pain of the past will come again) and instead live in love and trust.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, instead a comprehensive list of concepts that have helped me.
When we approach ourselves in this way, we open up the door for infinite possibility and growth. But if we continue to resist our current reality, we continue to be stuck in it. If we accept it, we are now able to shift and change it. Rather than letting your current state define you, you recognize it as a necessary step along the path to growth and evolution.
As always, thank you for reading <3