If you would like to know how you are doing in your yoga practice, take a look at your life. If you do not bring your practice into your daily life for self development, then yoga will be of no great value.
The practice of yoga poses takes us from a state of imbalance, rigidity and weakness to one of stability, flexibility and strength. The physical process is aided by the mind and spirit, since they are inseparable, so all are stabilised and strengthened by the practice. Yoga is said to unify body, mind and spirit for a reason – they work together for each other and for the whole.
But check yourself out, as your intention will largely impact what you get out of your yoga practice. You may be great at practising yoga on the mat, but how are you at practising flexibility, tolerance and compassion in your relationships with your mother, child, neighbour, or boss? If your target is merely to become fit and toned, you are missing something very important in your self development. The same sense of flexibility, tolerance and compassion with yourself while practising on the mat is what you should be bringing into your life and the lives of those around you.
“Yoga is not just what you do on the mat, it is how we live our lives.”
You may feel that you are not doing so well once you take a look at your life, but do not be disheartened. This is an opportunity to realise which are those areas that need more practice, just like you do on the mat. Just as it takes time to perfect a yoga posture, it also takes time to perfect the way you deal with life.
The most powerful changes are those made over a long period of time. You may not notice the subtle changes in your state of mind, then one day something big happens and your new reaction will show you just how far you have come in your self development.
You will begin to see clearly situations that were once confusing. You will be able to see beyond someone’s “bad” behaviour, with compassion for the pain or fear they feel. You will be able to do this because when pain or fear arises in you, you can welcome it and look upon it with compassion, until it dissipates … without it having controlled you. And then you move on in a state of presence.
The yoga life is a journey to be taken in small steps; if you run too fast, you may fall … or you may miss the beauty. Yoga is a journey and there is always somewhere to go, so do not rush in where angels fear to tread.
Just as in a yoga posture, you find the edge and work with it; the edge is not a place to be afraid of, it is your path to self development. Keep practising conscious awareness and body orientation as you do in your practice of yoga and meditation, and eventually, when you can walk along it equanimously, with love and compassion, you have become a true yogi.
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