Yoga is an ancient art and science. It’s a practice aimed toward freedom. Have you ever paused to reflect on your own practice of yoga? Have you ever asked yourself whether or not your practice has moved you closer to a sense of freedom in your life?
Yoga teacher Donna Farhi writes:
One of our greatest challenges as Westerners practicing yoga is to learn to perceive progress through “invisible” signs, signs that are quite often unacknowledged by the culture at large. Are we moving toward greater kindness, patience, or tolerance toward others? Are we able to remain calm and centered even when others around us become agitated and angry? How we speak, how we treat others, and how we live are more subjective qualities and attributes we need to learn to recognize in ourselves as a testament to our progress and as gauges of authenticity in our potential teachers. When we remain committed to our most deeply held values we can begin to discern the difference between the appearance of achievement and the true experience of transformation, and thereby free ourselves to pursue those things of real value.
Farhi encourages us to ask the question: “Who am I becoming though this practice?”
Yoga is a practice with many tools including behavioral restraints and observances, ways of understanding posture both internally and externally, and ways of working with, understanding, and changing our energetic and mental patterning. All of these tools can be practiced in a formal way “on the mat,” but they can also (and maybe this is more important) be practiced in every aspect of our daily living.
If we are truly practitioners of yoga, then our practice never stops.
The practices of yoga can help us move toward greater health and peace in our lives. Greater health in our relationship to ourselves, to the people around us, to our world, to our bodies, and to our emotions and moods. The practices of yoga can help us find our center so that we can move about the world with intention, consciously acting in our life rather than unconsciously re-acting. If we are not acting (or moving or breathing or relating) with intention, then we’re on autopilot and under the control of our habits. As we learn to act rather than re-act, we find a deep sense of peace within us. We become better able to make choices that move us toward becoming the kind of person we want to be.
I encourage you to respond to Farhi’s question for yourself. Who are you becoming through your practice of yoga? Is your practice leading you toward freedom?