We are well versed in our culture of the benefits of physical fitness. We directly experience these benefits when we work physically to strengthen our muscles and bring more flexibility to our joints. We know that if we take care of the physical body we have the opportunity to live a longer, healthier life. What we aren’t so familiar and educated about is that the body is more than just a physical apparatus.
Our Physical Body
Our bodies are complex organisms that are made up of, yes, blood, guts, bones, muscles and skin but we are much more than that. A lot of what we are exists in what I call the unseen field. Our thoughts, emotions, our intentions, desires, hopes, dreams and aspirations are all part of that unseen territory. We need to attend to these parts of ourselves as attentively as we do the physical realm to enjoy a contented and peaceful life.
Taking care of our physical body will always be an important part of our health and well-being, but these days it is possible to do that and take care of our mind, emotions and spirit at the same time. The ancient system of Yoga was designed to do just that.
Our Emotional Body
The physical benefits of yoga are closely linked with the mental/emotional/spiritual benefits. The yoga mat becomes a “playground” to practice and build positive coping skills that enable us to better handle both transitions and stresses in our lives. It provides a place to connect the mundane and the sacred, to bring spirit into our everyday life.
A good yoga class will guide you through an internal exploration that allows you to understand yourself, your reactions, choices and patterns better. This self-knowledge and understanding helps alleviate much of the distress and suffering we so easily inflict on others and ourselves.
One thing that begins to get clear when having a consistent yoga practice is that the thinking and chattering of the mind is only surface phenomenon. One discovers there is something underneath to tap into, a place below or between thoughts, a background or underlying field of awareness. Here we can focus our attention, be present and dwell………..to experience some peace and tranquility even amongst the challenge and difficulty of a pose.
The intention to work through the physical body, and reap the benefits of more strength and flexibility, entwined with the work of becoming sensitive to our subtle layers of being is where the transformation can be realized.
Yoga used as a doorway to self-awareness, not only allows us to reap the benefits of physical well-being but connects us to the other parts of ourselves as well. It may feel like it is more and more difficult to enjoy a contented and peaceful life these days because we are barraged with so much information, much of it negative, about our environment, world and personal lives. Yet, it is in the unity of self that we discover we have the ability to produce more balance, contentment and compassion in our every day life.