The Freedom of Yoga
Why should anyone choose yoga over say, Pilates, cross fit or some other form of physical health system?
To me, that's like trying to compare apples to carpets. It all depends on what you're after. Yoga is a system of practices designed to settle the mind into silence to know your true nature. It just happens to have a segment of practice that also has immense physical benefits. But the physical benefits of yoga pale in comparison to the full potential.
What does it actually mean, to settle the mind into silence, and what does true nature feel like?
Unexamined ego creates all kinds of sorrows and suffering and can hold us hostage. It consists of the constant internal dialog that colors our experience of the world: internal nagging, criticizing, self-limiting dialogs. It's full of the kind of underlying belief systems that create feelings of inadequacy, lack, envy or self-loathing; that cause us to worry about things we can’t do anything about, fear or judge things we don’t understand, and generally hold back from living fully. When allowed to continue unabated, these kinds of patterns will affect us physiologically creating high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, to name only a few.
The good news is, you don't have to believe everything you think. There are better ways to live. Yoga offers a variety of ways to interrupt the mind patterns long enough to drop the curtain of distraction and illusion so you can clearly see what's going on. When you interrupt the mind patterns, it gives you a better opportunity to turn and examine some of the previously hidden ongoing dialogs. You are not your thoughts.
With practice it becomes easier to monitor when you are in locked in ego or in your essential nature. For me, it seems I'm either suffering or enjoying life fully. When I am suffering with feelings of inadequacy or when my internal dialogs turn fearful or ugly, I know I need to get back to stillness.
On the other hand, when I am open to, aligned with, and inspired by my true nature I begin to see, hear and feel more clearly, more deeply and more richly and to live more fully alive.
I feel like I am more myself. Less life energy goes into worrying about the future or worrying about anything at all. Less life energy is wasted holding back and keeping myself small. Less life energy is contracted and constricted with self-limiting beliefs.
I am no longer at the mercy of my mind but the mind serves me and helps me to live life at full capacity. When life is lived fully alive, awake and aware, there is a fulfillment that wants for nothing and I have more to give. There is an overwhelming sense of beauty and love and light; an illumination and causeless joy. There is an ease of living; a continuous sense of gratitude and grace.
When I'm more in my true nature, there is a natural desire or a natural movement toward the highest expression of a human being I am capable of embodying. There is a natural easing toward a full appreciation for all that is. I begin to listen more fully, and love pours freely into and through me. I struggle less and breathe more freely, nourished by the breath and the senses.
Who wouldn't want more of that? There are good reasons the teachings of yoga have survived so many years through so many different times and cultures. I believe there is nothing of more value than to improve our capacity for presence and consciousness; to come home to our true nature.
So if you are looking for a good workout or need some special therapy, purely for physical reasons, you can get that in certain styles of yoga. Or you can check out Pilates or take whatever style of exercise fits your needs. If you are looking for freedom, it's Yoga, hands down.
Do you have a yoga practice? What is your experience? If you don't have a practice yet, what brings you to yoga?