Yoga: 3 Reasons WHY
The hardest part of Yoga is getting on that mat. The following 3 reasons keep me coming back:
Rewiring The Nervous System
I believe disease often stems from imbalance in our nervous system. Healing occurs during our “rest and digest” or parasympathetically dominated states. I’d like to submit that “The Placebo Effect” — which is thought to be up to 72 percent effective — likely connects us to a more parasympathetic state and, thus, a cascade of healing responses. It allows the body to do the healing. Proving, in my eyes, our bodies ability to heal itself when we are in the right state of mind.
We know the state of our nervous system impacts our digestion, our gut microbiome, blood pressure, inflammation, cell
Why Yoga? Yoga brings us into a more parasympathetic state and, more importantly, strengthens our ability to switch between the parasympathetic state and sympathetic (fight or flight) states at will. Stress happens. Stress is not the enemy and can actually be a huge motivator in our lives. The ability to turn it OFF and ON at will is essential for success and happiness. During your Yoga practice, the sympathetic nervous system spikes as you put your body into funky poses. Eventually you learn to relax and breathe in those places — i.e. turning “Fight or Flight” off. Gaining control of this ON/OFF switch is the key to responding productively to stress.
Witness Your Patterns – Wake up!
Our subconscious dictates most of our reactions. Thus, we make choices and stick to patterns without consciously realizing it. Many of us bounce through life chaotically, like a pinball, unwittingly smacked around by our unconscious thoughts, feelings and behaviors — this is not inspired living. Yoga will give you the tools and techniques, to return to the present moment. The consistent yoga practitioner will recognize the bright line between our conscious and subconscious motivations. The practice of Yoga is truly one of self-discovery. Our minds constantly drag us back into our past and fling us out into our uncertain futures. Yoga puts the reigns in our hands — so we can choose to stay in the present moment and think, feel and act mindfully.
For you Yoga geeks, key Sanskrit words here are Samskara: conditioned living / conditioned habits based on mental impressions, recollections, or psychological imprints and Maya: “the veil of illusion” which blinds us to the world as it is, so we instead see it only through our own subconscious emotions and biases.
If we want to make behavioral changes, or personal growth, we need to first notice our patterns. Wake up to them, look at them eye to eye, in the present moment and choose to change. This is clearly very difficult for everyone.
Why Yoga? The physical practice of Asana lays the training ground for building your “witnessing muscles”. On the mat, we explore the many interconnections in our physical body. When I lift my knee cap my quad fires; When I rotate my thumb out in downward dog, my trapezius relaxes. As one begins to explore the many cause and effects in the physical body, this process slowly and surely moves to the subtle: “When I enter this pose, I feel like this”… “When I eat this, I feel like that”… “When I surround myself with these people, I feel this”… “When I am lonely, I crave that” The list goes on and on.
Shining the light of consciousness onto our subconscious patterns WAKES us up to old habits and FREES us to craft the life we want. We CAN be free from our mindlessly repeating stories and self-limiting beliefs (Samskara). We CAN be free to make more conscious decisions. We CAN be free to witness and observe things as they are, not as we are (Maya). We CAN be free to live in the moment — the only place Yoga can really be practiced! The never ending self-discovery Yoga provides us quickly becomes the foundation for change and inspiration off the mat and into our everyday lives.
A Mirror to Your Inner Brilliance
Tada Drashtuh Svarupevasthanam – Yoga Sutra 1.3 — Then the seer becomes established in their inner brilliance — connected with their inner wisdom and inner knowing.
As I’ve mentioned, the mind tends toward a chaotic roller coaster of thoughts, self-limiting beliefs and projections. When we choose to take this ride, we miss our ability to hear our inner wisdom, see our inner brilliance, and trust our inner knowing. The mind can talk us into, and out of ANYTHING.
Why Yoga? Yoga let’s us observe the contents of the mind. First we learn to witness, then we learn to detach. When we slow down and learn to listen, we discover we already knew our answers. Ever have a gut feeling? Our answers are lurking below the surface — we just need to slip below the mind and into the heart. Yoga gives us the key to that door. Every practice can remind us of our inner knowing.
So with that, stay on your mat. The more people doing their Yoga, the better this world will be.
Denver, join me at Kindness Yoga, March 1-3, 2019 for a Rocket Yoga immersion weekend.