I first started practicing yoga so that I didn’t get fat.
I was a fairly neurotic, athletic, 20-something, looking for a way to stay flexible, “healthy” (skinny), and (sure, why not?) centered. Living in NYC with a healthy competitive streak and a does of obsession, I was determined to get “good” at yoga. Handstand, shoulderstand, arm balances! I wanted to take the hard classes. I craved the challenge.
Was my yoga practice serving my life? Well, sure in a way, and rather inadvertently. Although my ego was in the driver’s seat, the inherent benefits of the practice gradually began to seep in. Since savasana and meditation were part of the classes, I began to calm myself and become aware of the incessant chattering of my mind. After a few years of yoga, I eased up on the sthira (effort) and started to cultivate some sukha (sweetness). I started to love restorative classes. While yoga had started as another form of exercise, it slowly became a way to move deeper into myself.
After we practice for awhile, it’s time to ask the deeper questions. How can my practice truly serve my life, and my life’s purpose (dharma)? Can I connect my practice to my greater spiritual evolution? How is my soul’s intention fed and nourished through my practice?
Our intentions can be simple. Perhaps we need to open the body and breath so that we can do our daily job and stay well. Perhaps we need to practice being present so that we can make conscious decisions. Maybe yoga makes us kinder to other people because we’ve been able to take some time for ourselves. Or maybe we want to take a challenging class because it makes us feel more alive. Your reason can be simple – and it is absolutely your own. But take a moment before you practice to consciously set an intention.
Let your Practice Serve your Life.