One of the greatest benefits of regular yoga practice is that it cultivates self-awareness. As we become more aware of ourselves, we realize that separation from others is an illusion. We are all inextricably connected, and we are all here to help each other.
It ties in well with the Buddhist concept that all of life is suffering. It’s an idea that was hard for me to digest at first, as a Christian, but now I appreciate the perspective it brings to the table.
On the surface, it sounds like the most depressing thing in the world, to believe that we are here on earth to suffer. Especially if, like me, you were raised with the positive messages of Christianity…things like “Jesus washes away our sins”, and “We are all going to heaven one day”.
In yoga practice, however, embracing the idea that we are all suffering makes us better yogis, and draws us closer to God. It cultivates compassion, love, and connectedness to the world around us. The idea that we are different is proven false, and we fall in love with humanity.
As as a Christian, I am certain that Jesus practiced yoga, and totally agrees with Buddha. It’s hard to love our neighbor as ourselves, if we believe that we are the only ones suffering.
Acknowledging universal suffering does not guarantee happiness, however. At least not in my experience. I know these things in my head–that we are all connected–but sometimes my heart still goes back to that dark place where I feel separate. The only way I know to escape it, is to practice yoga.
Yoga makes me aware of my suffering, and reminds me to reject the idea that I am not this, or I am not that. It’s just not true. I am enough. And you are, too.
That’s why I am so convicted about doing my part to raise awareness about yoga during National Yoga Month. I am writing about yoga every day, because I think people deserve to know about this powerful practice, that helps us accept that we are enough, just the way we are.
Even if you are new to yoga, you can make a difference during National Yoga Month, too. Here’s how:
1) Invite a friend to yoga class. There are over 2000 studios in the US that are offering one week free. Find out more here.
2) Commit to one week of daily home practice, and challenge your friends to do the same at their home. Twenty minutes is enough to start with, if you meet your mat every day. Afterwards, make a date with the friends that join the challenge, and talk about the experience.
3) Wake your kids up fifteen minutes early, each day for a week, and practice yoga with them. My kids love this special time with Mommy, and yours will too. It doesn’t matter what you practice, and you can even let them pick the poses.
4) Have someone take pictures of you practicing yoga in random places, and share them on Facebook. Or send them to me, and I’ll post them on the page for My Crazy Healthy Life. They don’t have to be pretty, or perfect…some of the most inspiring photos are the silly, spontaneous shots that capture who we really are.
5) Buy a yoga book, and try to finish it by 9/30. Learn more about the books I love, in my recent post about how I got into yoga.
6) Subscribe to Yoga Journal, and read it cover to cover. It’s really fascinating, even if you aren’t a total yoga dork, like me.
7) Register for a yoga workshop or conference. One of my favorites, The Southeast Yoga Conferencein Atlanta, is coming up in the next few weeks. Join me there, or check out what Yoga Journal has to offer.
8) Take a private or semi-private yoga class. You will be amazed how much more you can learn through private instruction, than in a group setting. Let me know if you need help finding a qualified instructor in your area.
9) Share any blog posts about yoga that inspire you on your favorite social media outlets. I will love you forever if you share a few from My Crazy Healthy Life, but here are a few others that are worth checking out:
We’re all in this together. Let’s inspire each other by sharing our journeys.
Talk to your friends about yoga. Practice yoga with your family. Teach yoga in your kids’ classes. And, if you have a great yoga story to tell, share it in the comments below, or post it on the Facebook page for My Crazy Healthy Life.
As Jack Johnson likes to say, it’s so much better when we’re together. Happy National Yoga Month, my friends.