I’ll admit, many many years ago, I used to think that I wanted “a yoga body”, and part of my motivation for practicing, came from wanting to look like the “yogis” on the magazine covers, and be able to do the “crazy” postures that they were doing. Luckily, that motivation was enough to keep me sticking with the practice, to a point where the magic of yoga started to work on me. Little did I know, as I came to my mat each week, the movements and postures I was so focused on “achieving”, were sneakily working deep in the background, to swap my motives for a kind of contentment and ease in life I had never imagined. And as I continued to practice, my awareness of, and appreciation for the other limbs of yoga, and the true purpose of yoga, slowly continued to develop.
This may sound familiar to some of you. Or maybe you had (or have) a different initial motivation than I did. But likely somewhere along the way (to yoga class), you’ve thought or heard others say something about wanting some version of the “yoga body”. And you know what I say – Great! Which you might not have expected … so let me tell you why.
There’s many reasons people might come to yoga in the first place: to lose weight, gain strength, become more flexible, de-stress, heal injuries, sleep better, meet people, reduce anxieties, build healthier habits, because their friend / spouse asked / told them to, or because they simply wanted to try yoga. And still – I think this is all GREAT! Whatever motivates you to get on your mat, is a good place to start! Like I said, I too began my 15 + years of practice with vain intentions, but that intention was my path to a much greater purpose.
The beautiful thing about yoga, is that no matter what your motivation for getting on your mat, the practice will work on you to develop all of the deeper aspects of yoga. So as you focus on and build a practice that serves your initial intention, all of the more profound aspects of yoga start to develop in your life as well – usually without you even noticing! Like I said, yoga can be sneaky like that.
And yes it’s true – yoga can also do all of those other great things for you too (there truly are many wonderful side-effects and benefits to this practice). But the REAL benefits of the practice are not in the pounds you might shed, or the ability to wrap your leg around your head – but instead on the lasting and positive impact it will have on the deeper workings of your mind, body & soul. But, like I mentioned in my own story, you don’t even have to be aware of the real purpose, the greater benefits, or care about the other aspects of yoga at all to still experience them – with enough time and practice - you just will!
Yoga is both the path & purpose. This phrase confused me for a long time when I first heard it, but I can now confidently say I understand, believe in, and have experienced the truth of it. And it was only through experience that this was possible. Yoga - as you’ve likely experienced - is a sort of practice, maybe encompassing physical, mental, energetic, emotional, cathartic, meditative, challenging, restorative, joyful, peaceful, and many other approaches that train you to pay attention to, and connect to your self. It takes many forms, and there are many different “types” of yoga that work in different ways, for the same purpose. But what is that purpose if not for better sleep (or insert any of the possible great benefits / initial intentions of going to yoga)? Again, your reason may have started out being “to getting a yoga body” or some variation of that, but through the practice of yoga, that shifts. Yoga also becomes the end – the purpose. And I don’t mean that Pose you might finally nail!
The term “Yoga” is a Sankskrit word meaning “to yoke” or to connect. Yoga is Connection. Connecting your mind to your breath, your breath to your body, your body to your spirit, your spirit to nature & others, others to the greater community, and the greater community to each other – and so much more! Yoga is about making deeper and more solid connections in your own inner environment, as well as in the outer environment. So the “end”, the purpose of your yoga practice is to connect – to find Yoga. Through your practice of paying attention to your body, your breath – and seeing the connection between all aspects of you – you grow closer into connection. Yoga is both the path & the purpose.
Yep, that's it - Yoga's about Connection. So you don't need an incredible physique, or to be the most flexible person to practice. Yoga doesn’t care if you can touch your toes, if you would like to loose some weight, or WHY you’re coming to class – it only matters that you’re there, on your mat, willing and able to experience the teachings. So no mater what brings you in, there’s no judgement, and there’s no expectation. This is why we offer so many different types of classes and approaches to yoga, all with exceptional teachers - so that no mater where you’re at, or what you’re looking for – you’re going to get it - YOGA that is … and maybe that yoga bod too ;)