How I Fell In Love With Yoga

My yoga journey began in 2013. It started with an exercise video that included several ashtanga based yoga sequences that were designed to build strength and increase flexibility. I truly enjoyed those yoga sequences, and remember performing them with so much ease. Later, I attended classes at a yoga studio and at a fitness center. My interest in yoga eventually waned with each passing year, and I began pursuing other interests; such as hiking. I know now, in retrospect, that those ashtanga asanas weren’t designed for anyone just beginning a yoga practice. So, when I look back at that time I feel extremely fortunate for that experience.

It wasn’t until the end 2019 that I would rediscover yoga, and learn that I didn’t know as much about it as I thought I did. Never, in a million years did I ever expect to be as intrigued with yoga as I am today; after making the decision to pick it up again and deepen my practice. My decision to do so arose from my intent to find a way to manage the grief that I was feeling after losing my son. That led me to begin taking courses that would help me learn about the foundations and fundamentals of yoga . It turns out that was one of the best decisions that I have ever made for myself.

There was a time when I once thought that yoga only consisted of performing complex asanas (poses), maintaining a “certain look”, or living a specific way. For some, it may be just that, but that is not all that it is. Yoga is so much more.

Besides asanas (poses), yoga is also comprised of meditation and pranayama (breathing). In fact, the word yoga means “to yoke” or join together in Sanskrit. Moreover, according to Pantanjali, the father of yoga, it is about mastering the stillness of the mind, understanding the nature of reality and the true nature of self.

The asanas (poses) are actually just one part of what makes yoga… well…yoga. They are the part that assists in the creation of strength, flexibility and balance. The other components of yoga are related to mental focus, personal and spiritual ethics, and using the breath as a life force. All of which, once practiced daily help increase resilience, compassion and a connection to your higher self and source.

A lot has changed for me personally since 2013 including my levels of physical activity and flexibility. But thankfully, yoga is very forgiving. It doesn’t demand perfection. It only asks that you continue to show up on your mat daily, and when you do show up, that you meet yourself wherever you are, and create space for where you are trying to go. I love that so much.

Thank you for reading.

Until the next post..

Please take care.


References:

Satchidananda, Swami, Sri. (2018). The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali . Integral Yoga Publications.

Easwaran, Eknath. (2007). The Bhagavad Gita. Nilgiri Press.

Affirmations

Affirmations

Have you ever tried using affirmations as a means of self-help or self-improvement?

An affirmation is a positive statement that is repeated or written until it is believed to have manifested. They are quite helpful in decreasing negative thoughts, and every time that an affirmation is recited it helps to strengthen positive thinking.

My first experience with affirmations was less than favorable to say the least. In fact, the first time that I tried them I was instantly unimpressed and convinced that they were ineffective.

It seems I somehow formed the conclusion that they were just some type of “woo-woo” new age thing that didn’t offer any real inspiration or serve a viable purpose, (not that there is anything wrong with new age concepts…) I am not judging here. At that time it just felt wrong.

I remember I didn’t like the way that saying them made me feel when I recited them. They always left me feeling as though I was sad, incomplete and somewhat pitiful. Which was quite the opposite of how they were supposed to make me feel. Affirmations are supposed to leave you with a sense of empowerment. Why wasn’t I feeling empowered?

I later learned that affirmations, just like anything else that is created for the purpose of self-development and personal growth, work best “if” the person is ready, willing and open to receiving what the self-help task being performed is attempting to help you accomplish. I think sometimes when it comes to self-help activities we often expect them to work in an instant – like magic – at least that was the belief that I had at that time in my life. That is often not the case though. It took me a long time to realize that. Now I say say affirmations daily and I appreciate the gift of mental and spiritual inspiration that they give me each day.

What I like the most about affirmations, is that they work very similarly to gratitude in that they are personal, and they remind you of the positive life affirming aspects of your life. Every affirmation, once spoken, wraps you in your own personal strength and power; and prepares you for a day in which you will be prepared to take on any obstacle. To me, they are like daily “mental rainbows’ that provide you with little shots of extra resilience while also filling your heart with self-compassion and joy.

An affirmation as simple as “I am feeling stronger today” can help provide you with that little bit of encouragement needed to perhaps… get out of bed and face the day ahead when you are in a bereaved state; or experiencing some other type of loss.

In addition, reciting an affirmation such as ” I am feeling stronger today” is considered to be a better affirmation to use than something very simplistic like: “I am strong” because it is more reality based, a little more in-depth and considered to be easier to accept – and therefore apply. This works well for me, but feel free to try this for yourself to see if it works for you.

Other examples would include the following:

  • Using the affirmation statement “I will be kind to myself today and apply patience through all things that I encounter, ” instead of using a statement such as “I have an abundance of patience.”
  • “It is okay for me to laugh sometimes because laugher is a soul’s expression of joy. Appropriate laughter helps me breathe positive energy into the universe”, Instead of ” I will remember to laugh to foster a sense of joy.”
  • “I am present in my life and open to receiving love and support and good energy from others”, instead of ” I am open to socializing, and trying new things.”
  • “I trust that my ability to create a new story, (or add to the one I already have), is strong when things go wrong in my life, and I repel all doubt of my ability to do so”, instead of ” I can and will beat any adversity.”

A few ways that affirmations are useful include the following:

  • They help you draw on your ability to be open and receive positive energy from source or the universe.
  • They allow you to focus on applying courage because instead of denouncing your fears, they help you climb over them.
  • They help you apply patience, because they help you remain honest about your abilities and intentions.
  • They help with resilience because they make it easier to keep showing up during tough times.
  • They help you maintain your sense of humor and your ability to smile, laugh, not take life too seriously.

If you haven’t already done so, try creating your own daily affirmations, or if you’ve tried and had a bad first experience like I did, why not give it another try and see if it adds value to your life this time around. You’ve got nothing to lose, only something to (hopefully) gain. I wish you luck. Love and light to you.

Thank you for reading!

Until the next post…

Take care + be well.