What I Have Gained From Practicing Yoga

I know; this can be seen as a very superficial, millennial, new-age-y kind of post. But, through my journey to become larger than myself, yoga and meditation has played a huge role. I can’t discredit the impact it has had on my life and world view. I also just finished a session on my mat so it’s on my mind.

  1. The journey you make to get somewhere is just as important as the destination. So very cliché, but also so very true. Nothing has given me as much joy as falling through my journey to where I am at now. The slow, but steady, expedition to understanding how I view the world and how I can make sense of the world has been irreplaceable to look back and reflect upon. There’s a moment of clarity, sometimes, where you can look back and clearly see the path you have taken to get to this moment in time and it is a wonderful feeling.
  2. Paying real attention to your body, and its’ needs, is something not many people do, but it is invaluable. When you focus on your body, how it feels, and how it then affects your everyday thoughts…the world makes a lot more sense. It simply makes more sense. Everything being connected is such a comforting feeling and it makes it much easier to trace your emotions or thoughts to a source. You are a piece of machinery, but if everything isn’t in tune or wired together properly then it will not work as well as it could. Your mind intelligence and your body intelligence should be working properly with each other; as well as, along side your heart and your soul. The smoother these connections are the smoother your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will be.
  3. Never drink and practice yoga at the same time. It just…won’t work. Your stomach will hate you later.
  4. Be in the moment. Wherever you are at in your practice, or in your life, truly be there. Don’t let things go by without noticing and don’t get swept away by your thoughts or the future. Take a second to think about where you are, what your mind and body are trying to tell you, and appreciate it all. Becoming grateful for things is so much easier if you put some thought into being in the moment.
  5. There is very little division between the mental and physical world. You’ll be surprised to find how easily you can influence and alter your perception of the world and of others. What was once infallibly true turns out to be the result of how you perceive the situation or person. With an ever so slight change, in your mental workings, your physical world can all of a sudden look drastically different.
  6. Openness is possibly the best characteristic you could teach yourself. Openness to other people, to the world, and to life allows you to operate at such a high level of functioning that good things come your way. Not only do you have to put yourself in front of possible opportunities, but you have to be open to all the other options as well. Being open allows you to truly see all the things you could do in this world.
  7. If you ground yourself in reality, life takes on a new light. A bunch of the poses used in yoga base themselves around grounding yourself. Both mountain pose and tree pose require you to take a second, before moving into the position, to truly put yourself in connection with the ground and Earth below you. Pushing through your feet, and pressing every corner of the foot into the ground, provides you with a sense of strength, connection, and balance. All of these characteristics are easier to pull upon in life if you have the memory, and ability to imagine, the feeling of being grounded.
  8. You have a responsibility to yourself. No one else is going to know how your body effects your every day life, no one else is going to care enough to tell you to go work out twice a week. The only way to make yourself better, or to make progress in anything you want, is to have a responsibility to make it happen for yourself.
  9. Find what feels good. Along with having a responsibility to your body, you have a responsibility to yourself to find what feels good to you and to do it. Yoga simply feels good to me. That is why I try to incorporate it into my everyday life. Helping people simply feels good. So I am going into a profession where all I do is help people. Find what feels good to your body, mind, and soul and do it without hesitation and without fear of being judged (other than drugs. don’t do drugs.). Everyone is at a different spot in their lives so what feels good to you may be at different level than what feels good to someone else. That’s okay! It’s important to focus on your own journey and what makes it good.
  10. Everything and everyone is connected. No seriously, you share 88% of your genes with a mouse, 69% of your genes with a platypus, and 24% (!!!) of your genes with wine grapes! Everything is a lot more similar than you think it is. You have 24% of the same genetic instructions that an alcoholic grape does. There’s nothing to stop you from deciding that you identify with a tree better than you identify with other people; we share almost 30% of our genes with plants! Go stand outside next to your brother-en and do you tree thing. (Numbers from National Geographic: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/07/125-explore/shared-genes).
  11. When things seem bad…you can always make them better. Learning how to meditate has helped me a ton with keeping myself balanced. My meditation practice includes thinking about and establishing how strong or how weak each chakra is at that moment. I go through the surviving, the feeling, the thinking, the loving, the speaking, the understanding, and the aspiring to identify and fix anything that’s off or wrong in the grand scheme of operating properly. This internal exploration then allows me to put myself back on track. This has been helpful in my own unstable mental moments and in a bunch of relationships. It is a way to watch and follow your own thoughts in a distant, observant, curious manner instead of tiring yourself out by running around in circles.

 

Like I said in the beginning, there’s certainly some abstract ideas on this list, but they’re worth some thought. And, if anyone ever wants me to explain how mediation and yoga has shaped my spiritual world view, let me know!

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