Yoga Beyond Exercise

“I love yoga! It’s just not exercise, it’s the body mind stabiliser I need,” a student said to me today when we finished our class.

I smiled at her peaceful face and asked her to explain a little more:

“In the last five years my business has grown enormously and although that’s fantastic. I’ve been travelling and working long hours, then coming home to my family with commitments there too.”

She went on to tell me that only recently she realised how steady she has become in body and mind. Her practice has helped her to stay focused at work, then leave it behind when going home. She told me that it is Yoga that lets her flick the switch in her mind, to leave the stress of work, enjoy going home to family and most importantly to relax and simply be.

Yoga is not just exercise. It’s not just maintenance. Yoga gives us our first opportunity to start to get to know ourselves and be real. Without judgement, it is simply the beginning of a new relationship with ourself as we make the time to know, really know, what’s going on in our inner world.

Yes, it generally starts with physical posture (asana) practice. Moving with the breath, we  begin to build strength and flexibility. To do this, we need to check in and see where we are on that day. It doesn’t have to be hours every day, but it does need to become a habit, so we do it again and again. Our inner mirror starts right there!

Yoga practice can never just be exercising the body. Through the breath, Yoga cleans the mirror of our minds. It may not be much, but it’s enough to see more clearly. It’s enough to reconnect with our own internal anchor instead of looking for anchors outside ourselves. We begin to see into our heart; we rediscover the place that always holds us steady, through the rainy days as well as through the sunshine.

From that place, we can sit and feel the peace that dwells within. That is Yoga.