As they discussed the many ways in which yoga can allow people to see their lives and their true selves more clearly, we touched on all the ways that people often change once the begin to practice yoga regularly. Although this doesn't happen overnight and doesn't happen for everyone, many times when people begin to practice consistently, they begin to tweak their lives in small ways so that they can lead healthier lives overall. These changes can be smaller changes like beginning to eat healthier or drink less, working to get more sleep, or working to manage stress in a better way, or bigger changes like quitting their jobs, leaving unhealthy relationships, quitting smoking, or pursuing lifelong dreams or goals that before seemed unattainable. As teachers it's pretty exciting for us to see this transformation take place within our students, especially because so many of us have been through a similar transformation and know how exciting (and also scary!) it can be.
The more and more that we talked about this, the more and more I began to think about the profound ways in which yoga has acted as a catalyst for change in my life. Thinking back on the past few years, I have no idea where I would be had yoga not come into my life and allowed me to experience things in a different way--and really tune inward and figure out what brings truly brings me happiness. Not sure what I mean by this? Here's a short list of the changes that I've made in my life due to the heightened clarity and awareness brought on by my practice:
- Gave up running because I realized it was causing my body too much pain and I now had a new outlet for movement and stress relief.
- Finally began to pay attention to my body--to really pay attention to it--and to treat it with respect (includes the following smaller changes: started getting more sleep, started "partying" less, started paying attention to my posture when sitting at my desk all day, started stretching more off of my yoga mat, etc.).
- For the first time since my early teens, I started to actually care about and appreciate my body. After struggling with body-image and self-esteem issues for most of my adolescent and adult life, yoga finally got me in touch with my body in a new way. It allowed me to gain strength, confidence, and a connection with my body, and to truly begin to break away from these issues and love my body (cheesy yoga talk, I know, but this has been one of the biggest shifts in my life since practicing yoga).
- Enrolled in Teacher Training (and completed the program/graduated, obviously :).
- Gave up daily caffeine/coffee (a big one!).
- Quit my full-time job to pursue teaching yoga full-time (and in turn, opportunities just opened up and I was also able to start working at Tranquil Space as a Studio Manager).
- Started this blog to share my love of yoga with the blogosphere :)
- Enrolled in Advanced Teacher Training.
How has yoga inspired change in your life? How has your practice allowed you to get in touch with the parts of your body, your personality, or your life to which you had become disconnected? I found making this list, of the ways in which yoga has acted as a catalyst for change in my own life, to be a great exercise, and definitely encourage you to do the same. If it's not a yoga practice that is your refuge, but something else, how has your passion for this activity or purpose inspired you to be a"better," or truer version of yourself?
To paraphrase a Judith Lasater quote that was shared with us during the presentation yesterday, you don't use yoga to change into something else, yoga takes you back to your true self. And I'll leave you with that thought ;)