I read the book, Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar and took away three teachings that relate to how we each experience yoga.
1. Yoga can’t be practiced without mindful movement . As Iyengar states, “Yoga teaches us how to infuse our movements with intelligence, transforming them into action.” When we practice, we have to be aware of three things to correctly align ourselves in a pose and get the most out of our yoga practice: our breath, our body placement and our thoughts.
2. Yoga unites ourselves with not only our physical body but all parts of ourselves. As Iyengar states, “Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit.” The beauty of practicing yoga is how it feels. You are being mindful of your placement of your body on your mat, you are being challenged physically, and your breath is your soundtrack; soothing your body into each pose, keeping your mind at ease and allowing us to connect with our inner selves, our spirit. These three elements of mind, body and spirit allows us to experience movement with all parts of ourselves. Pretty amazing, huh?!
3. Yoga can bring pain that is hidden within ourselves to surface, but when we soften and surrender to the correct alignment of the pose with breath, we grow and move beyond it. Yoga just like anything in our lives can bring emotions and memories to the surface that might have been hidden in our unconscious mind. These feelings can be happy but yet again, can be overwhelming and painful.
When yoga presents itself in this way and allows us to feel these emotions at once, it can be scary; making us tighten and fidget in a pose. Just like when a personal life event triggers an emotion for us and we hide—locking ourselves in our home with a pint of ice cream by our side to heal the pain. Instead of filling the body with more pain (i.e. all the healthy fat and calories of the ice cream!) and suppressing these emotions, yoga releases them through breath and thus softens us. It’s as if we are able to twist, stretch and lengthen the emotional pain and cleanse ourselves.
This not only relates on the emotional level but the physically as well. Yoga allows us to face our tight spots and injuries and bring the pain to the surface by stretching and massaging these pain points with love. As Iygenar states, “Pain is your guru.” Contradictory to the notion that there is no pain in yoga, there is pain. The pain that lies underneath that yoga enables us to deal with by releasing it. All with love of course :). The next time you are tempted to hide away with a pint of ice cream, put down the spoon, keep those cozy sweat pants on and get on your yoga mat! 🙂