What is Yoga to Me?
My definition of yoga has been more than just the asana’s (poses) or physical preparation for meditation, as it has been utilized for centuries. Throughout my experiences, I have developed my own understanding of yoga and that has helped me in my personal life as well.
By definition, yoga is “a spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, and widely practiced for health and relaxation.” However, for me it has always been the ability to manifest the mind into physical form. Through practice and meditation, the body is able to conduct a pose by building muscle memory, strength, and flexibilty. For instance, think about the first time you tried any yoga pose – let’s use the chaturanga as an example. I remember when I first tried the chaturanga my whole body was shaking from trying to hold my body weight in a plank pose then pushing down through my arms into an upward dog. I never thought I would achieve the pose and I was annoyed at how heavy I felt. However, after only three weeks of consistent practice I was able to effortlessly hold myself up and achieve the vinyasa flow.
Neurochemically speaking, “neurons that fire together wire together.” This means that our brains cells communicate via synaptic transmission where one brain cell releases a chemical and another brain cell absorbs. The more frequently this happens the stronger the neuronal connection and the easier it becomes to complete a task. Through consistent practice various yoga poses I originally found challenging became easier for me to achieve. Our bodies are actually wired to develop habits and yoga is just one of many life’s examples of that.
Emotionally speaking, after having achieved the chaturanga or any of the inversions, I felt an epiphany about the true powers of thought and action. Yoga has become my inspiration and my confidence-building tool. Anytime I doubted myself I always looked to yoga to shift my mindset toward positive thinking and strategy on how to improve. For example, if I was having a hard time at work or in my personal life, I would think about how I used to struggle with certain yoga poses in the past and how practicing allowed me to improve. I began using the same tactics in anything I was struggling with in any other area of my life. I would visualize ways to improve my outcome and put it into action. Once you are able to think clearly and more strategically it becomes a habit and problems become opportunities.
Now it’s your turn! Let’s continue the conversation by telling me what yoga means to you in the comments below. I’d love to know your thoughts.