“Open your hands if you want to be held.” ~ Rumi
Though many people think of yoga only as physical exercises, postures (also known as ‘asanas’) are actually only one small aspect of the practice. Yoga cultivates health and (physical, emotional, mental and social) wellbeing through the practice of many different techniques including breath awareness and breathing exercises, relaxation and concentration, self-study or self reflection, meditation and of course – postures.
Yoga is a system. A lifestyle. A way of being in the world. It is an approach to life based on balance and harmony, within each person and with each other. In fact the word “Yoga” means union; referring to the sense of connection to self, environment, and community.
Yoga was developed around 5,000 years ago in India but has been widely accepted world wide. Today, many millions of people use aspects of Yoga to raise their quality of life in areas such as fitness, stress relief, wellness, vitality, mental clarity, healing, peace of mind and spiritual growth.
One of the beauties of yoga is that the practice is available to everyone. Whether you are young, old, healthy or healing, you can always come to your mat. In fact – you don’t even need a mat. You can practice sitting in a chair, lying in the grass, on a towel – anywhere. Once you have been introduced to the practices of Yoga they are yours to use, explore, adapt and enjoy in the ways that best serve you.
Yoga is a practice that we all have experience with. To some extent we have been doing it since we were babies. Whether it is a morning yawn and stretch or a deep breath and sigh. If you have had long moments staring into a campfire or watching the clouds for hours you have engaged in some element of Yoga.
If you have concerns about being able to ‘do Yoga’ try to let them go. Yoga is not a sport that you need to perfect. It’s not competitive, comparative or judgmental. In fact it’s not even something you can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at. Yoga is simply a practice. One which we each take on in our own time, in our own way and to find the benefits we are most in need of. We come to Yoga with our areas of strength and weakness and our practice of Yoga respects those aspects of ourselves and helps us to accept ourselves more fully. Yoga is not about changing ourselves or fixing something that we think is flawed. It is about developing awareness, acceptance, connection and a sense of wellbeing. These are all deeply personal, and defined by each of us in our own way.