Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why I Do Yoga

I am not athletic.
I am not graceful.
I am not flexible.

I've avoided yoga for ALL of those reasons.
Yoga, to me, seemed like this flowing, beautiful dance reserved for people with pretty wrists and breezy shirts.
I've felt a pull toward yoga for years, and I always sort of fizzled out on it.  I didn't have direction and I only found that I failed myself over and over and over.  I fell, I farted, I fizzled.
Can you relate?

Lately, the pull has been stronger.  I walked into an earthy store a few weeks ago, and the pull screamed at me.
I looked at the Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamps, the fancy yoga mats and loose, empowering shirts. I thought of the books I've been reading, how my yoga practice has shifted, shifted.
I've never been to a yoga studio.  I've done sessions with instructors now and then, in a backyard or cultural hall.

But you know what?  The most effective practice I've ever done, where I have learned the MOST have been done in my front room with ME as the instructor.  Is this because there's a potential yoga teacher hiding under my tight hips and tense shoulders, waiting to get out?
It is simply because MY best yoga instructor is my innate.  I think that's actually true for everyone.

What I've learned as I listen to my innate actually has less to do with my lack of athleticism, grace and flexibility and MORE to do with leaning into discomfort, relaxing with what is.  I'm learning patience.

I haven't been diligent about getting on the mat these days, and I need to.  In the meantime, I have found what I've learned in yoga to be helpful.  Danny took us all to see the new Star Wars movie, and this was tricky for me because
I don't like Star Wars
I usually watch old movies or animated movies

So when things started zooming and shooting and booming, my ANXIETY kicked in.  I couldn't believe it!  What a crazy irritating thing to have happen.  I wanted OUT of that theater.  My 3 year old kept saying, "Turn it off, Mom."  I felt her 100%.  I wanted to turn it off, and I thought maybe I could take the toddler to Denny's and we could escape.
Instead, I took a breath.  I relaxed my muscles.  I applied yoga.
It worked.

I find it works in lots of uncomfy places and situations.

I did a self-guided session Monday morning after some meditation and prayer and it changed the rest of my day completely.  A few days before, I was listening to some Conference Talks.  One piqued my interest.  I had to sit down and highlight.

Search Results

In it, he talks about trials.  He talks about a BIG trial -a tsunami.  And then he talks about a smaller trial: headaches.  Isn't crazy how sometimes the bigger trials are easier to accept than the smaller ones?  It's easier to say, "I miscarried.  This HURTS.  I accept the pain, the sorrow" than it is for me to say, "My body is inflammed everywhere.  This hurts.  I accept it and will live accordingly: more yoga, less sugar, more water, less time online."

He quotes a scripture:
 In Abraham, the Lord God declared, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”1

Suddenly I could see myself as the Lord of my body... I'm proving my body when I'm in yoga, to see if it will do all things whatsoever I will command it.  Yoga, for me, isn't about force or abs or will-power.  It is about GIVING UP, surrendering to a higher power.
In life, my higher power is GOD.
In yoga, the higher power is my mind.  Mind over body.  The parallel there teaches me so much about the importance of giving my will to God.

I read on in his talk and came to this:
The principle is that the God who created the heavens and the earth knows the grand design of this earth, that He has dominion over all things in the heavens and the earth, and that in order to bring to pass the plan of salvation, He provides us with many different experiences—including some trials—while we are on this earth.
And the Lord said the following to Joseph Smith:
“Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. …
“Therefore, hold on thy way … , for God shall be with you forever and ever.”2
The trials of this earth—including illness and death—are a part of the plan of salvation and are inevitable experiences. It is necessary for us to “hold on [our] way” and accept our trials with faith.
However, the purpose of our lives is not merely to endure trials. Heavenly Father sent His Beloved Son,Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Redeemer so we could overcome the trials we face on this earth; in other words, He makes our weak things become strong,3 He atones for our sins and our imperfections, and He makes it possible for us to obtain immortality and eternal life.
President Henry B. Eyring stated: “The test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us.”4
“Hold on thy way” is a key choice during times of trial. Turn your heart to God, especially when you face trials. Humbly obey the commandments of God. Show faith to reconcile your wishes with the will of God.

So much good! So much good going on here.
In yoga, my weak muscles become strong as a natural side-effect of my practice.  As I practice surrendering my body to my mind, my body becomes strong where it has been weak.  !!!
I love how he speaks of accepting our trials, of holding them with reverence.  In yoga, it isn't enough to FORCE our way into a pose and then tightly WILL OURSELVES TO STAY IN IT.
In yoga, our mind asks our body to sit in a very uncomfortable -but beneficial -place.  Our body finds success and growth as it endures the pose WELL -meaning as it relaxes and finds a peaceful place in the pose.

Hold on Thy Way.

I'm not doing so well today.  I'm trying to get back on the mat literally and figuratively.
So this post is me trying to inspire me.
Reminding myself why yoga needs to happen.  A friend of mine recently mentioned that we have 3 primary motivators: Truth, Value, and Control.
For so long, I did any physical exercise because I wanted to control and I placed great value in a thin, fit body.
But today I can honestly say that my practice comes from my seeking truth.