By Aadil Palkhivala, Certified Yoga Instructor, Co-founder, Alive and Shine Center, and the College of Purna Yoga, Bellevue, WA
The magic of Yoga becomes apparent when you realize it has moved out from the yoga studio to touch and enrich the whole of your life.
As you practice Yoga, you begin to notice changes in the way you react to events at work and situations at home. With aches and pains no longer nagging you, with your nervous system in a state of calmness, and with your mind not congested with frantic thoughts, you find that you are able to respond to life quite differently from the way in which you once did.
Suppose someone swerves in front of you when you’re driving along the freeway. Previously, you may have felt threatened, angry, or frightened. However, since you just emerged from a Yoga class, calmness pervades your being and you are able to react quickly and avert an accident! Also, instead of typical angry responses, you can be slightly humored by the driver’s behavior and by our cultural obsession to get everywhere in a hurry. In addition, with the spacious feeling in your mind, you have room to entertain other thoughts. You are able to think, “Maybe that person’s wife is seriously ill in the hospital, and he needs to get there in a hurry.” You maintain your calm focus, and then drive safely home.
Suppose that a family member says or does something that might make you defensive and upset. As you practice Yoga, especially combined with meditation, you develop inner awareness and the presence of mind to catch these emotions before they manifest as angry, hurtful words. You are able to ask yourself, “Is there some truth in what they are saying?” After all, whenever you open a box, the only thing that can come out is that which is already inside. Ask yourself why anger would be in your box, and why does it come out so easily? Now you are able to go inside and look at yourself so that, next time, a similar situation does not evoke a similar reaction.
There is more to Yoga than poses. As you progress along the path, you learn how to use the calm feelings and wise philosophies that underlie Yoga in all aspects of your life. You carry yoga in your mind, in your words, and in your heart.
Life is designed to be joy, not sorrow; fulfillment, not punishment; abundance, not deprivation. Yoga is about finding bliss, our very nature, in all the minute, meandering movements of our lives. When you do this, you live Yoga. Then you have a smile in your heart and sleep more at peace when the sun has finally set on the day.