Many come to yoga with a goal in mind. Some want a quick form of exercise. Others turn to yoga for it’s therapeutic benefits, seeking relief after years of wear and tear. The rest want that strength and conditioning. In the West, it is common for asana practice to serve as a doorway to the yogic journey. We come for the poses but stay for an entirely different reason.
In the asana practice of yoga, we work ourselves into these complicated, pretzel-like poses and are encouraged to keep our breath steady. Our minds fight against a ten breath Warrior II, and we learn to still our minds. Tight shoulders and backs resist Full Wheel, and we discover opening. Thoughts wander as we lay in Savasana, and we are encouraged to realign our focus. These physical movements transform our bodies and the lessons behind them help us realize the deeper aims in life.
The asana practice is just a small piece of a larger, complex study. In its various parts, the practice of yoga is designed to help us live the best life possible. The surface benefits, become secondary as we realize what really matters. Yoga teaches us to let go, to get a handle on our emotions, to consider our perspective, and to face our fears. It encourages us to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves. Yoga helps us see that there are no perfect poses, or perfect people. It helps us realize what we want out of life. It strengthens us as we discover the extent of the power we hold.
As we begin to experience an awakening in our bodies, a fire is ignited in our souls. What we do begins to change. The food we eat, the routines we keep, and the articles we read. We gravitate toward what makes us happy. We begin to realize the symbolism in repeated Chaturanga-Planks and learn to be strong in the face of hardship. We unlock our true potential.