Above is a picture of me when I was practicing yoga somewhat inconsistently. I do not have any current ones of myself (although I wish I did). This is from our honeymoon and I like that the waves are in the background as they go well with the blog theme.
There are many definitions and forms of yoga. Yoga combines mental, physical and spiritual aspects in order to connect with yourself, your purpose, your present moment, & your well-being. According to the Website Yoga Alliance:
Yoga was developed up to 5,000 years ago in India as a comprehensive system for wellbeing on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. While Yoga is often equated with Hatha Yoga, the well-known system of postures and breathing techniques, Hatha Yoga is only a part of the overall discipline of Yoga. Today, many millions of people use various aspects of Yoga to help raise their quality of life in such diverse areas as fitness, stress relief, wellness, vitality, mental clarity, healing, peace of mind and spiritual growth.
Yoga is a system, not of beliefs, but of techniques and guidance for enriched living. Among Yoga’s many source texts, the two best known are the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Both explain the nature of—and obstacles to—higher awareness and fulfillment, as well as a variety of methods for attaining those goals.
I used to practice yoga to help relieve stress at work. I got decently good at my practice but I still felt that my mind was wandering during classes. Athletically speaking it took me a while to improve my poses to the more advanced ones for some reason. When I would get my butt to class I simply loved it. It was the best moments of my day. But the problem was the motivation to step outside, drive the car, and get there.
Before my husband took his life he had made a comment to me about how I should get back into yoga and go back and see my teacher. I thought it was a strange thing to say out of context but stuff that he said then was random. I just sort of brushed it off and said I wish I had the time. I had filled my time with other things building a custom home and planning to all, rescuing dogs, and being home with him. Also work and work travel nights took me away from a consistent practice. I specifically like my yoga teacher and my yoga studio. Taking it on the road is something I never got very good at.
When he died I shifted. The old me died with him.
My first class back was a gentle one. Partly because I wanted to start off kind to my weak, malnourished self and hope to begin to rebuild my strength and practice both mentally and physically. Partly because I know that class offers meditation, breathing, longer pose holds, slowness, calm, and Shavasana. It was amazing as always being back on the mat with my favorite teacher. The Shavasana ended and I was brought to tears. Uncontrollable yet quiet tears that I had not been shedding poured out. I knew this was the space where I would grow stronger.
Presence is something I have always had to work at. I think for a long time I was busy planning and living for the future. I had this expectation that there would be time for fun, laughter, and closeness once the list was done. There was always something: find a good guy, plan a wedding, career advancement, build a home, volunteer for a good cause, save for the future, or whatever else needed attention and focus at that time. I think this is an easy thing to fall into when you feel that so much rides on your shoulders.
It has been my goal to change this behavior of thinking into the future. We are not guaranteed one moment more than the one we are in. I find the place I succeed most in living in the moment is on my yoga mat. Some other areas that I find Presence are when I spend the time to put my ideas into this blog, when I work on my painting/pencil drawings, or when I let myself get into music fully. When I have seen a medium and energy healer one lesson that came up was that I stop living into the future and live in the present. Things are not going well for me in some areas I do hope that one area in particular will improve over time but it is not for me to live into that future. I can only control how I act in this moment. You can dream and want but you truly have no control.
The moments I most look forward to now are on my mat. It is my peace, my reset button, my space. It is me. I am physically in the best shape I have been in probably ever and still improving. I am mentally as sound as I have been since he passed (granted the truth is I have no care in the world what happens to me and no one can convince me out of this… another post for another time).
I came back different to my practice. Ready, eager, determined, invested, fully present. My practice and abilities and even advanced postures came back quicker this time because of those things. I still have work to do as our practice and focus improve and develop over time. There is always another level, a subtle improvement, a more conscious place you can get to. Yoga is my time to live my best self in the moment. I am thankful for my practice, my teacher, myself, my strength, my mind, my presence.