“The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind & the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
There’s no denying that practicing yoga is a great form of exercise. You increase your flexibility, tone your body, create core stability, and gain a better immune system overall. There’s also spiritual enlightenment, peace of mind, meditation, and many other wonderful benefits of yoga.
Here are three questions we should ask ourselves to really assesses what we’re hoping to gain from our yoga practice.
Am I interested in yoga mainly as a form of exercise?
In recent years, yoga has become very commercialized and mainstream. Hatha yoga (which is most frequently practiced here in the United States) focuses on the physical asanas of yoga. Many yoga studios today are more like gyms, where yoga instructors rarely see the same students.
Not much emphasis is placed on meditation other than the last 5-7 minutes of class for savasana or final relaxation. This may be perfect for people that want to practice yoga mainly as a form of exercise. Many people just want to improve their flexibility and mobility but that may not work for someone in search of spiritual enlightenment.
Are you looking for a new way of life?
In the past, yoga instructors selected their students. They had close relationships with them and this also helped prevent injuries. Yoga essentially was a way of life. Now materialism runs rampant in the yoga community and in our modern world, freeing ourselves from wanting material wealth is not an easy task. I’m very guilty myself of drooling over a new pair of elephant pants. If you’re looking to change your lifestyle, time must be invested in studying and researching many different sacred ancient texts, such as Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. They can be applied to your life off the mat. There are 8 limbs of yoga. See chart below.
What style of yoga is best for me?
In addition to the 8 limbs of yoga, there’s also different styles or paths of yoga such as Karma and Raja yoga. Some may be fascinated with Ayurveda (the world’s oldest form of holistic medicine that has origins in the Vedic culture of India). Other’s may be more interested in Kundalini yoga which focuses a lot on opening your third eye.
We must find our own truth and venture out to discover what yoga truly means to us as individuals. Only you can decide what’s best for you and how much you want to deepen your practice.
I just hope that we can all continue our yogic journey while being mindful of all the limbs of yoga, for I truly believe we could all change the world for the better.