Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Can You Learn from Yoga?

I love Yoga. In fact, I am passionate about Yoga!
I can't believe it took me this long to find something that exercises my body so incredibly while simultaneously strengthening my mind and spirit. It's like workouts and therapy at the same time. The Yoga I do exists in a class that is organic. I like that word. Organic.
Organic means it changes every time I'm there. The fundamental poses and movement may be similar but I cannot predict it. In fact, one instructor has different expressions for poses ... She artfully explains them. Sometimes we flow quicker ... sometimes we hold a pose longer. Each instructor has his or her own style. But the classes are never the same. The poses and message are always in flux.
I attend a variety of classes but I'm pretty much a regular at the Wednesday 8:30 class at The Yoga Shelter -- love that name -- almost every week. It's my day off and my day to take care of myself ... and some of those little things I neglect amidst work and chauffeur duties. I like this class. It's Slow Flow which means lots of poses moving along at a smooth, easy pace. The instructor always gives me stuff to think about as I move. Today when I went, I expected to see Marty ... I always look forward to his message and his guidance. But today, it was Juliet who fed my soul and challenged me. And, she gave me and guided me in a completely different and exciting way.  
Today in class, I learned a lot. Do you have a mental or spiritual or physical exercise or activity that challenges and strengthens you? What do you take out of your classes or games? What does it bring or give you? What do you need from it? Why did you choose it?  
I begin my "Practice" with meditation. It's a method a friend of mine introduced to me. I have a specific posture that I use to prepare for class. And I cleanse my mind, anchor my spirit and shelter my essence. I protect my heart and my self during that meditation. And I know I'm ready to begin as I embrace energy from the earth and sky. Kinda cerebral, I guess. But it is a healing process that I crave and that surges bright pink sparkles and energy thru me and around me.  
Each Yoga class is organic. But this is what I brought home today. This is what I give to you.  

I seek Balance over Support. Guess that means I like am a seeker and I do things on my own.

Yoga, like life, isn't easy. What you do and experience and feel and take from it changes day to day ... side to side. What was easy yesterday sends me off balance today. What caused me to shake on Wednesday is solid on Saturday.

I like not knowing the order ... not predicting the flow. I like being surprised and challenged.

Whatever flow happens -- even if I'm looking forward to something and anticipating its benefits -- it is exactly what I need at that moment. That surprises me. Yoga feeds me what I actually need ... not what I think I need.

Yoga is a practice ... In the Shelter of that room, I seek not perfection. I seek the essence of who I am in the universe. Who I am varies and is not stagnant. It changes day to day and during the class. I am in constant flux ... This is something I've discovered.

When my body shakes, that is a good thing. The quaking is my body, mind and spirit ... one of these or perhaps all ... seeking strength.

If I fall, I get back up. No one looks at me funny or judges me in that room. I try to reach beyond myself and feel the supportive energy all around me. It inspires me to go farther in my poses. On the crowded days, we are challenged to take someone with us if we fall. That is a reflection of our group connection and the shared support.

In my poses, I find that I reach. I am reaching for something. Often for the light or the ceiling or the sky. Up. Out. Beyond myself .... Yoga helps me figure that out.

After class ends, I still have to vacuum and clean and do dishes and laundry and cook dinner and take care of my family and home and get to work and get stuff done and deal with people who are difficult etc etc etc. Yoga reminds me that I can choose my mental approach to all that ... just like we do as we hold difficult poses or stretch in not-so-easy directions. I can choose to wish away the experience or the discomfort, or I can find the joy and the opportunity amidst the strain.
And perhaps the greatest message I've learned: I am who I am. Yoga teaches me to embrace and respect and honor myself ... not based on the "rules" of our Western Civilization but based on the fact that I am a creature of this universe created to be exactly who I am right now. I am in process. I will evolve and grow. I will love and dream and desire and crave. I will win and lose. I have imperfections and assets. But no matter what ... I have a purpose. A reason. And I do not need to change based on someone else's story or expectations of who Jenni Carmichael Clark should be.

I did yoga in the beach in Florida. The energy was different amidst the sand and surf, standing on a towel amidst a beautiful beach surrounded by 75 people of varied ages. But it was harmonious. And beautiful. And it made my spirit soar as I listened to the waves and flowed my poses. 
Yoga strengthens my mind and spirit. It has given me the tools to see myself in a different light. To embrace aspects of me and share aspects of me that I once buried deep and hid. It empowers me. 
Does your exercise regime do that? What does it give you? What do you want from it?
Just curious....Yoga does that to me .....                                                            
                                                                                                                                                                   -- Jenni