By Kathi Duquette
While I am sure that the philosophy of yoga will vary according to who you speak to, my basic version can enhance your life. The simple philosophy of yoga can be applied even in our lives over 3000 years after yoga was documented. Yoga is a practice of developing your mind and body’s energies to produce a happier and healthier lifestyle. My philosophy? Be good to yourself and share the good with others.
People will have various versions of being good to themselves. Gifts, money; what is your version? What if we pay attention to physical and mental gifts that we can give to ourselves over and over? And what if these gifts can positively enhance our quality of life? Give yourself a gift: Have an open mind when you practice yoga and let the healing begin. You may think you don’t need any healing, but if you live in today’s society – there is stress.
We know that stress relief is a huge benefit of practicing yoga. The physical poses combined with the breathing practice ensure that you focus on yourself for a little while ~ allowing you to take a break from the turmoil of everyday life. This little break leaves you feeling relaxed and lighter.
What other advantages does the practice bring? Anger, frustration, and jealousy are all negative emotions that arise from stressful situations. We can get past the stress that promoted the negative emotions and let the negativity go. Holding on to negativity is not good for anyone – physically or mentally.
Physically, yoga can reduce high blood pressure, relieve arthritis and fibromyalgia pain, increase respiratory health and the list goes on and on. Even if we don’t deal with any of the above, the physical aspects of yoga urge us to treat our bodies better. When we feel physically healthy we can focus more on the advantages of the practice. Most people find they eat healthier and stay more active once starting a yoga practice.
‘Breathing’ during yoga practice is thought to bring ‘life force’ or ‘energy’ into our bodies. Hopefully you know, breathing is a natural reflex that supplies fresh oxygen into our bodies. While we can’t live without that breath it is important to note that most people don’t breathe correctly. Upper chest breathing only utilizes part of our lungs. Breathing practices in yoga allow us to make use of our lungs in their entirety. Inhaling and exhaling deeply can release toxins that we may be breathing in and holding onto every day.
Consciously breathing in to our bodies is a practice that enables us to focus inside. That focus helps us to clearly see and feel which muscles hurt, or which thoughts hurt for that matter. We can then adjust a pose physically and/or let go mentally. The release is liberating.
When you start paying attention to yourself, I mean really tuning in to how you feel physically and mentally, it is only natural to want to make things better. The clarity that yoga brings to your mind may allow you to see that you could be a healthier person by getting rid of unhealthy habits or unfriendly character traits.
Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. The ‘be good to yourself’ attitude of yoga can help you to let go of old mistakes and move forward in your life. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a chance to learn from those mistakes. We don’t’ need to dwell on the past; we need to acknowledge, learn and move forward with a positive mindset.
I often ask my students to let go of any negativity they are holding on to at the end of any practice. During the resting pose, we allow our bodies to melt by relaxing all of our muscles. Our physical body absorbs all the strength and flexibility benefits. We then allow any negativity to release from our minds and our hearts. We simply breathe in all of the positive energy that we can. And it is therapeutic!
My yoga philosophy is: Practicing yoga promotes peace. When you slow down and tune in to yourself, you feel more confident, less stressed, stronger, and free from negativity. It truly is being good to yourself; it is your gift to yourself. Take that feeling and share it with others. It is easier to be nice to people when you feel good, physically and mentally.
We need a lot more peace in this world. Practice yoga and pass the peace along to others.
By Kathi Duquette
Certified Yoga Instructor
Certified Personal Trainer