~ Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives. ~
When I first started my yoga practice I was fortunate to practice with seasoned yogis who had been on the path of self-realization and who often talked about being in the” flow of life”. To be honest, at first I didn’t know what they were talking about. At the time, Yoga to me was an intense physical practice that allowed me to get out of my mind and into my body. It was both a physical and mental struggle every time I came to my mat. “How long can I hold this pose? Wow, look how flexible I am! More flexible than that man beside me. Oh, I can’t breathe! Hold it Shanell! Don’t stop holding it. My foot is numb. My lower back is killing me! Who cares, go deeper! It hurts. Ignore it. You were much better last week. Hold the pose! OMG, how long has it been since I breathed!?”
I look back at this competitive and harmful thought process and I clearly see what was happening. Thru my yoga practice, the physical and mental blockages were bubbling to the surface. My conditioned competitive nature was comparing everything I did, with everyone around me. I was sacrificing my physical health in order to get somewhere I thought I needed to be, instead of just accepting where I was at.
By God’s good grace, I somehow became an observer to my thoughts during my practice. All the talk about “being in the flow” and “you are not your thoughts” started to sink in. And wow, I realized that my thoughts were false, ego-serving, and misguided! It was my mind that was blocking my growth. It was my thoughts that pushed my heart out of my practice! I realized that this mental dialogue, was not my true self.
With this realization, came freedom.
Everytime I step on my mat, the thoughts come. I practice acknowledging them with acceptance for what is, push them aside, and open my heart to my true self. With time, the negative mental chatter becomes quieter and less frequent. My heart becomes fuller and more open. I become kinder to myself and those around me. I stop comparing and judging. And the most beautiful thing happens…it follows me off the mat!
I am here to tell you, if you are beginning your yoga practice now and find that there are many blockages in your mind, body, and heart. Do not despair. Freedom from those blockages can be found. It is a process. Yes, it can be painful and may bring to the surface issues that you don’t want to deal with, but freeing yourself from them will be a beautiful experience.