Yoga helped me become comfortable in my own skin.
I took my first yoga class over 20 years ago, and, like with any long-term relationship, there has been so much evolution, growth, and change throughout the years. However, there is one thing that has stayed with me and that is the importance of breath and movement in any form that feels right for me in that particular moment.
In my asana practice, the physical practice of yoga, I ask my body to take on many different shapes, inspired by the world around me. I do not have to look a certain way in these poses; I am never even expected to come into the fullest expression of the postures – I am only encouraged to breathe, explore, and play with the ways that the physical body can move. And I am so grateful for that, because my body has changed so much over the past 20 years, and what feels right for my body one day may be very different on another day.
There is a passage in the Bhagavad Gita that I often come back to:
“You have a right to your actions
but never to the fruits of your actions.
Act for the action's sake
And do not be attached to inaction. 2.47”
(from Bhagavad Gita, translated by Stephen Mitchell)
I am encouraged to let go of any attachment to getting to a certain place, and instead put the emphasis on the journey, putting forth consistent and mindful effort to surrender any judgment. This practice creates a unique kind of balance - a balance which has the potential to help you access little moments of inner peace and contentment.
Yoga asana is therefore a kind and accessible movement practice. Yes, it increases the body’s physical strength and flexibility, but it also, simultaneously and subconsciously, works to heal the heart and calm the mind.