Yoga Has Your Back… and Your Heart
Today it is popular knowledge that yoga’s benefits include physical gains like increased flexibility, balance, stamina and strength, yes? But how do these gains translate and impact your daily life? And what is this talk about the more subtle benefits of yoga such as relieving stress, being a nicer person, a more conscious being on the planet, and engaging and loving more fully in your life?
So I want to know, maybe yoga has supported your back, but how does it care for your heart?
Patanjali tells us in sutra 1.14 that yoga’s benefits come when practice is sustained over time, and with great devotion. Although Patanjali is talking about the practice of meditation, (yes, meditation, not yoga classes like we know them today)* ask any yogi who has sustained their asana practice over time, and they will tell you that the subtle benefits of yoga are available to them too.
While Patanjali’s work is based in classical dualistic thought, it’s a tantric precept (and I’m not talking about neo tantra here, ie. sexual practices)** that the body can be a vehicle for union with God (or our higher Self, spirit, or as you experience the One.) This is hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, as we know it in yoga studios today.
But how does the subtle stuff work?
As the body lines up physically, prana, the vital, conscious energy, flows more freely, and when this happens, we find more of our center, we’re more calm, we can let go of the little things because we begin to see the bigger picture, and we find we are more connected to the greater fabric of our lives.
Think of no bottleneck in the internet highway, or finding the clear channel on the radio dial, or the spring break-up of ice in the mountain lake that sends the river to nourish the valley below.
This is prana flowing through the energetic channels in our body. No congestion, no static or noise, and no blockages of the path means quieter mind and healthy body–everything in flow with nature.
At Bhava, we recently completed a challenge of taking 14 classes in 28 days, ie. a practice, sustained over time and with great love! When asked their gains, students expressed that while they came to “let go” of something, they left “having found connection… with the courage inside themselves, with their spiritual nature, and with their loved ones.” They talked about “going through transitions” in their lives, and having yoga to plug into gave them the “inner strength to stay steady on their course.”
Yoga has your back… and your heart
Sometimes it’s pain that motivates us to seek yoga for relief, and the absence of pain is the open door for more of life’s fullness. A student wrote about a private session we had recently:
“Little did I know three months ago that today I would be thankful for a pinched sciatic nerve. I was in so much pain I could barely stand. The simple routine of poses you gave me has fixed me. I now have zero back pain!
I’m no spring chicken but suddenly I feel like one! And also, shortly after starting yoga, I met a very sweet and handsome man. TMI? Thank you Bhava, you are good for everything in Life!” Ray C.
Can I just say, yoga has your back… and your heart!!!!
Yoga, when practiced in a studio setting, has the capacity for building community. I’ve seen this happen at Bhava over the years. Friendships form between students who otherwise might never have met. One student commented, “I didn’t come here looking for community, but I found it.” I see support and inspiration across the room on a daily basis, and at the end of the day, I come away feeling the love, and I hope that you do too.
Share with me your stories of how yoga has your back and your heart.
When we share the love, more love happens.
p. s. *Let me know if you would like to hear more about Patanjali’s yoga sutras and how they show up in our daily lives.
**Let me know if you would like to hear more about Tantra rooted in spiritual texts… not the new age neo-tantric sexual practices–you can find that info anywhere.