Yoga means to me so many things which are so important to my daily life. I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual and I feel a deep connection to nature and water. Which is why I live in Vancouver, BC.
I felt that most profoundly during a recent weekend yoga retreat to Bowen Island.
The retreat was in a beautiful forest setting and it was so powerful practicing in that space with the fresh open air.
The teachers were inspirational and knowledgeable about yoga’s history, the benefits of each posture and guiding us with our pranayama breathwork. I felt at peace and in tune with the seasons changing to spring.
I think yoga means different things to many people and some are more appreciative of it than others.
For many it is a physical workout and they only see it as that. There is nothing wrong with that view and it is more than likely a product of marketing it as exercise and part of a fitness regime.
If an individual opens one’s self up to the other aspects of yoga practice, they will see it for more than that.
Since practicing Ashtanga yoga regularly for the past 8 years and really focusing on my breath during asanas, and being more mindful, I have found a huge difference in my moods. It is what led me to take a 200 hour yoga teacher training (ytt).
I suffered from fairly serious depressive episodes prior to that shift which are now non-existent.
I also look at life in general, from a different perspective which is happier, lighter and feeling more safe and secure in my self and my body.
On the physical side, yoga has no doubt kept me limber during my many years of long distance running and racing.
My incentive for first trying it was to increase lost flexibility but I remember going to my first class and being surprised how difficult it was.
I still had yet to recognize how it would eventually, with continued years of practice, also help with building strength, balance and lung capacity.
I enjoy it because it is an excellent workout at times when I need that, or alternatively, a rejuvenating stretch and opening for tired muscles.