Why do I keep coming to yoga? Before it was my vocation it was my avocation and I’ve been blessed to have the ability to make that shift. There are days I walk into the studio not feeling myself for one reason or another and after teaching or taking a class, I feel an excellent shift in my energy, physical self and mental well-being.
Before Bindu Yoga Studio (www.bindu-studio.com) I practiced Sivananda for years, before that Bikram and hatha yoga. So a decade or so into my own personal practice my passion for yoga burns very bright although my focus has shifted. Here are ten reasons why I still love yoga and keep coming back:
1. Yoga makes me feel good: No matter what I walk into the classroom with, something usually improves physically during my practice and if it doesn’t, than a mental shift does. I’ve never left a class feeling worse, both mentally and physically, than when I stepped into the classroom. After spending the last two years battling physical injuries I finally feel like there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. I ended up doing more yoga than physical therapy after my back surgery and feel like I am getting stronger every day. Practicing vinyasa yoga gave me a rush of energy and eagerness to learn more and more. Advanced poses, arm balances and other stretches were my goals …. until I couldn’t move my left shoulder and neck and there were days when just lifting my arms was a challenge. Many acupuncture needles and neck releases later, those days are fewer and farther between so I revel in every arm movement I can make. Same with my back – I’m nearly at my pre-surgery flexibility and I believe have surpassed my former core strength to hopefully keep that low back happy! Yoga has been a saving grace for so many reasons, but above all, because it makes me feel good.
2. Its still practice, because I’m nowhere near perfect: And that’s not only okay, it is exactly what it should be. Since earning my Registered Yoga Teacher 200 hour designation, I’ve been diagnosed with arthritis in my neck, herniated disks in my low back, had surgery on my back and developed arthritis in my low back. Needless to say my changing physicality makes for a changing practice. I’ve always felt stronger in yoga class than in the gym. Targeted exercises in the gym for me, are a short term fix for an area that may need a little building. But in many yoga poses, particularly standing, finding the balance of strength, grace and release ends up strengthening more than the area that the pose targets. Practice doesn’t always make perfect but it means some days my forward bend is far prettier than others. Learning to accept yourself on a day to day basis is an important part of being a happy human being. I find something in every class I teach or take that was an improvement upon the last time.
3. Physical Therapy/Yoga/Viniyoga: First of all, let me say that over the past few years I’ve developed a huge respect for physical therapists. They go through a lot of education and training, help people, hold our hands, prod us when we feel like the pain and weakness is going to win and they don’t make a whole lot of money. When I began attending and teaching classes at Bindu, we had a Viniyoga teacher, Emily Large, who was a breath of fresh air for me especially once my neck and I began doing battle. She made small suggestions and adjustments, strength building poses and movements and most of all, just a solid practical knowledge that got me through some painful days. As I got deeper into physical therapy for my neck and later my back, I came to realize just how many exercises and movements are related to yoga asanas and movements. I’ve been able to incorporate physical therapy movements into both my home practice and teachings. I’ve shared class or taught students who are recovering from addictions, breast cancer, lymphedema, spinal injuries, sciatica, wrist injuries, wrist injuries and more wrist injuries. Yoga is more than bending and stretching and balancing on your pinkie while tucking your toes into your ears (I kid, I kid – mostly) – it can help improve your physical self and rehab many injuries and diseases.
4. I’ve met wonderful people at the studio: I’ve met people who have passed through my life but been incredibly important while they were here; friends who I hope will be with me forever; people who I send a message to the Universe asking them to show up in class; students who do “turn the world on” with their smiles. My mentor was an attendant in my wedding. A student did my (and my attendants’) hair on my (giddy) wedding morning. Another student had suggested the venue. My pet sitter I met at a Simon Park Workshop at Bindu. Officially, Bindu has permeated every facet of my life! I’ve met students with wonderful stories to tell, students with stories of perseverance and injuries and surgeries and recoveries. Fellow teachers are joyful friends. Students and teachers exchange ideas, recipes, eggs and freshly grown or canned fruits. Students who are emotionally or physically fragile can count on me for support, just as they’ve helped me through tough times with just their presence in class and relaxed smiles at the end of class.
5. Meditation means more than it used to: This is a big one. A recent (good) shift in my back pain has found me meditating even more than usual. Whereas meditation used to be a 5-10 minute practice a few times a week, I now find meditation a useful tool to not only calm my brain but also to calm my pain. My practice is expanding and near daily I am experiencing some sort of little epiphany. Next spring I’ll be attending Instinctive Meditation Training with Lorin Roche at Bindu, http://www.bindu-studio.com/id2.html, and I’m very much looking forward to it.
5a. I don’t have batwings. Yes, I practice yoga because I love it. But no bat wings on my arms, tight triceps, biceps and a firm(er) body are nice side effects.
“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” —Rumi
My soul speaks to me the loudest when I am practicing yoga in one form or another. That is really the biggest reason I practice yoga.
Your power lies within. Breathe it, live it, love it ……