This week I thought I would delve deep into the spiritual practice of Yoga. By now most people have heard of yoga – even if only as a class offered near you. Yoga has many health benefits but also has a huge mental/emotional/spiritual aspect as well.
I have heard people say that they like the physical aspect but have not put too much thought into the spiritual part of it. There seems to be a disconnect with many yoga classes that are offered through classic style gyms. They offer yoga as part of their aerobics classes offerings and I feel like something is lost.
While yoga is excellent for toning muscles, gently raising the heart rate, and promoting physical fitness there is definitely and inner growth or spiritual aspect as well.
This comes when the pose gets hard.
Anyone can learn the poses and practice them, but to grow spiritually you need to be holding these poses mindfully (fully present) focused on your breath, and for enough time that they become hard. If they are not held long enough to become hard the emotions never kick up and give you a chance to notice your own resistance or negativity of being uncomfortable and there for never strengthen your mental resiliency.
When a pose gets hard your mind will think all kinds of negative things. Your mind will think about giving up. Your mind will have many reasons why you should give up! Your mind will start to talk you out of doing this whole yoga thing. And that is the exact moment where growth is possible.
When the pose gets hard is your moment to take a step back and notice your thoughts as the observer. Just notice them – and also notice that you do not have to partake in what they are saying. Just because your mind wants to give up does NOT mean that you have to listen to that! You can keep going and that is how you build strength. And not just strength of body – strength of mind and therefor spirit.
Yoga can be thought of as a moving meditation if you practice having mindfulness as the observer during it.
For this week’s journal exercise I want you to think of a time in your life when the “pose got hard.” All of us have traveled paths that we did not enjoy at one time or another. For me high school was definitely one of those times. It wasn’t horrible but I feel like I counted every moment until I could get on with my life and actually do something. It was hard and the only choice I had was to keep going.
Everyone has had those times.
So take a moment and write down the times when you had to just keep going or “hold the pose.” Where all you could do was just keep breathing and keep going.
Childbirth is another one that comes to mind for me personally.
After you’ve thought about this and made your list look at each item.
There are two main groups that this falls into. There are times when we are not actually suffering and we are holding the pose and it is hard. And there are times when we are truly suffering and holding the pose. The difference is only in your inner self – your spirit. So take a look at each one and see if you can see the difference.
Suffering comes when we know there is a better way and we are too afraid to choose it and welcome the change. Suffering can also come when we don’t have enough information to make a better choice.
But you can probably see from this exercise that not all hard things cause actual suffering. Some things are just hard.
Now you have a list to look back on whenever you are unsure of your own strength, and you will see that you do have fortitude and you can do hard things! 🙂
Peace – Sara