I started practicing yoga in 2006 because I liked to stretch. I did gymnastics as a child and I had a strong internal nudge to try yoga. I knew I would like it, but I didn't know anything about yoga. So, I started looking and trying different classes. I tried, Vinyasa Flow, Birkram, Jivamukti, Power yoga, and before I knew it, I was hooked on Ashtanga yoga. Yoga just felt good to me. It was challenging and really catered to the gymnast in me. I got to stretch and bend and bind to my heart's content.
As time went on, I attended workshops with Andrew Eppler, David Williams, and other yoga gurus that reside stateside. I gained tips and tricks and pointers to improve my practice so that it remains challenging for me to this day. Through all those classes and workshops, I believed that yoga was just about the asana (posture). I knew I enjoyed the meditative state I entered from the deep breathing and concentration that resulted from practicing asanas, but I didn't realize the subtle glacier like changes that were happening to me beneath the surface, not until I decided to attain a life's goal and obtain my yoga teacher training certification.
During the certification, I learned about the eight limbs of yoga.
- Feeling the sense of God in you.
4. Breath control
5. Sense withdrawal
8. State of joy and peace
The yamas and niyamas felt like the ten commandments of yoga. Most of us are raised to be nonviolent, honest, and not steal, etc. I was raised to be a neat freak, and I'm a naturally spiritual and introspective person. But, when I looked at the eight limbs together in a list, I noticed how every one of the limbs has developed in me over the last 8 years since I started practicing yoga, one limb for every year.
I've written extensively about honesty, generosity, choosing happiness, and developing yourself. I was always honest with other people, but I was not always honest with myself. I was raised to be frugal, but made a conscious decision to start giving, and I was amazed at how generosity changed the constant state of my heart. As I developed my maturity, I also learned how to be happy for others who had what I wanted but did not have myself.
I've struggled with contentment a lot in my life. Then, I discovered The Secret, and discovered that happiness is a choice. Maybe that choice became easier to make because of my yoga practice.
Finally, I noticed that I developed my breath control, first as an opera singer, then as a yogi. The breath control, led to concentration, which grew into meditation and developed my sense withdrawal. The crazy thing I discovered about meditating, concentrating, and sense withdrawal was that together they developed a stronger sense of God within me than ever before. That inner voice keeps growing louder and the nudge of my intuition telling me which way to go guides me every day. Now, I'm finding this unity in myself, which is that inner peace people strive for all their lives.
I won't say that I developed all of these things only because of yoga. I think maturity and life's challenges help you formulate your thoughts and attitude towards life, but I will say that I know yoga has been an instrumental addition to my becoming the person I am today. I love myself and will keep yoga as an integral part of my life so long as my body is able.
I hope you will make yoga a part of your life too because you can!