I realized that going to yoga to get a better body is not enough for me anymore.
What is a better body anyway? What does that even mean? What kind of goal is that, really? I do Yoga to clear my mind, to open my heart and to breathe. When I have a consistent yoga practice, my life works. The chatter in my mind dissipates, I feel calm and my intuition is clear. I do Yoga to bring peace and strength to my life. The experience of my yoga practice eased the loss I felt as my friend slipped to the other side. Yoga, meditation and mantra gave me solace in the night as I panicked at the thought of her leaving this earth plane. My practice gave me the strength to keep up.
I study and teach Kundalini yoga and I recently came across this quote in my teachers manual. “If its not devotional it’s not yoga, it is just exercise.”
This rings true to me on a deep level. For me, Yoga is not just exercise or a vehicle to beauty. It is a practice, a way to unify my breath with my body and my spirit with my self. Yoga, meditation and mantra is the prescription I use when things get tough. The medicine I take daily to live my life free from fear.
Here is what I crave:
- To bring a sense of devotion to my postures.
- To bring that devotion to the time that I carve out for Yoga.
- Devotion to my body (that has given me so much).
- To honor myself
- To connect with (my) self
- To NOURISH (my) self.
- To connect to the divine: the divine teachers who have come before me.
- To trust the process of life.
- To open my heart when I am afraid.
Without devotion in a Yoga practice, it becomes just exercise. Through this experience, I realized that it was not the duty of the teacher or the class to bring devotion to me. It was not the job of the other women in the class, nor was it the job of the music. Only I can bring devotion to my practice; only I know what that looks like and feels like for me. My practice, my devotion.
I miss my friend. She taught me about generosity and love. On this day in this yoga class I felt her spirit, her true beauty soul.
I want to bring that Yoga-devotion to everything I do. The dedication, the time for practice, the expanded breath, the love. I want to bring that devotion to my friendships over tea- at the births of their babies, and at their deaths. Devotion inspires me. Devotion gives me a sacred connection to my soul.Through Yoga, I can remember devotion and what it feels like in my body and in my cells. In this way, I will always be able to access it, and cultivate it, and nourish it—and then, in return … it will nourish me.
May the long time sun shine upon you
all love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide your way on.”
— Mike Heron
With gratitude and love,
Photos by Denise Andrade-Kroon.