Enjoy My Yoga Online's latest yoga article by expert Kino MacGregor. Kino shares her insight as a teacher and as a practitioner in how to approach yoga in order to acquire holistic, grounded success physically, mentally and spiritually in your practice.
Yoga shows you the way and the spiritual community of friends and teachers illuminate the path, but you must take every step of the journey. The miracle you pray for is that you unroll your mat every day you can and get the courage to be a better person at the end of each practice. The long road towards enlightenment is a solitary path that is supported by friends and teachers but must be walked alone. Each footstep along this path of self-realization comes from your own inner fortitude. Each challenging posture that tests your limits of possibility is place where you flex your spiritual muscle and develop the gumption to imagine a life beyond anything you have known before.
All progress along the path of yoga denotes milestones crossed along the ravine of the human soul. You pay with the currency of your body and breathe and gain access to boundless energy, true power and compassionate wisdom. The story of you transforms from a tragedy into a hero’s journey into a purpose driven life. The practice of yoga has the magic to recast the pages of life in the new light of total presence and thereby set you free from past suffering. In the clear light of self-awareness you begin to see yourself for the free, happy and peaceful being that you are.
The understanding that you alone work diligently every day in your own practice means that you when the hard won fruits of your actions ripen you will know that you have played a vital role in this transformation. Teachers, guides and spiritual friends make the journey possible but if you do not learn and integrate the lessons even the best teaching is meaningless. You will look back at the years of life spent sweating on your mat and take stock for just how far you have come. This progress will not be measured in asana perfection, but instead in the steady knowingness that you have committed yourself to a more peaceful life. There is perhaps no greater sense of self-confidence that the certainty that you are strong enough to meet whatever challenges you face.
Before I started practicing yoga I did not believe in myself and I had no real way to measure success or failure. I judged myself by the external attainment of results and felt frustrated when I could not attain what I thought I wanted quickly. After I started practicing yoga I began to see that I am the master of my own fate and that my inner thoughts really did create my experience of reality. My thoughts defined my daily yoga practice and in the same sense my thoughts defined my life. In order to attain any level of accomplishment I had to start off my learning how to believe in myself. No amount of effort will produce the desired results without addressing deeply held beliefs about your sense of self-worth. The barrier between you and your dreams is more often my lack of belief in yourself than anything else.
Yoga is a paradoxical parameter with which you can measure your sense of self. If you enter the yoga world with a defeatist attitude you will experience more and more defeat. If you enter the same domain with happy disposition you will get more happiness. Kind of like a microcosm for life itself yoga is best understood as a playground where you test out your deeply help thoughts about yourself and see what kind of results you get from thinking the way you do. The kind of belief in yourself that you get with regular practice is not the kind of self confidence that comes from what you can and cannot do. Instead yoga helps you connect with a part of yourself that is beyond the physical and it is in that eternal place that your belief in yourself rests. Only when you touch the stable inner terrain of infinite self-realization do all the postures even start to make sense at all.
If you approach your practice from the perspective of attaining the perfect asana sooner or later you will fail. Even the strongest and most flexible person will get injured or grow older one day. When this happens it is not time to quit or time to punish yourself. Actually at the moments of perceived failure is often when the most yoga happens. Sometimes we have to gain the perfect yoga body and the perfect yoga postures just to “loose” it to injury or age so that we can see that the whole point of the journey of yoga actually has nothing to do with asana anyway. Yoga asks you to tap into a place within yourself that is able to have faith in the results that are not immediately evident. The only way that you can rest in the difficulty of the present moment is if you have full faith that your ultimate goal, the attainment of inner peace, is on the way.
In yoga you never fix yourself, but instead you reveal your true nature. This warm tender heart of compassion that beats strongly underneath any veneer of cynicism, anger or fear can never die. In fact it stays with you beyond your physical form and carries you forth into the next iteration of your life The eternal nature of the human spirit is what the heart of yoga really is. If you connect to that everyday then the journey is already coming to fruition.
About Kino MacGregor: Kino MacGregor is a small business owner ( www.miamilifecenter.com ), yoga teacher and freelance journalist who has produced two yoga DVDs and is currently working on her first book, Inner Peace, Irresistible Beauty to be released late April 2009. For complete details please see www.ashtanga-awareness.com .