I spent some time recently talking to students in my yoga classes. I was curious about what they were thinking about when they made the decision to start coming to a yoga class. Some were new to yoga and others had years of experience, but there were some common themes in what they had to tell me.
Most people I talked to told me they had decided to come to yoga for its physical benefits – strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. Within this conversation about physical fitness, however, there often emerged a second theme – the need for stress relief, time for personal growth, and an opportunity to practice mindfulness with the support of others.
Despite initial uncertainty (“…maybe I’m not flexible enough to do yoga”), these students found that yoga allowed them to slow down and open to present moment awareness. Instead of comparing themselves to others, they found their attention moving away from distracting and negative thoughts and toward the way that yoga made them feel. Yoga class gives us a designated time to experience the unique combination of much needed physical movement and breath awareness without self-judgement. These words by Buddhist monk, Pema Chodron, say it all.
“Practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we already are…We experience moments of being right here that feel simple, direct, and uncluttered.”