Why I Practice Yoga

yoga and meditation-compassion-8 limbs of yoga

This piece of writing came to me the morning after a dream. In the dream, someone very close to me died, and I was left to console those left behind by this person. I was forced to think and talk about the nature of life and death - something we rarely talk about openly in Western culture. I realized the ancient sages and yogis that fully devoted their life to their yoga; their salvation, were fully connected to the brevity of their life and the impermanence of their body. I realized at my most deep level, this is why I practice yoga.

--------------------------- I practice yoga because I know one day, I am going to die. I say yoga, because it is more than an asana practice. In the yoga sutras, Patanjali describes 8 limbs of yoga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Practiced together, they are a way of life.

I know my body's impermanence. I practice yoga, I live my yoga, for my soul. I live my yoga so my soul will progress in this life, and have less lives to live.

Compassion and kindness. Kindness and compassion.

We come back to this Earth to cultivate compassion and kindness in our lives. We take on this body again and again to live out our karma, open to our sankharas and tear through samsara.

When I feel lost, yoga is my saviour. It reminds me to lean into life, and draw my aversions closer. It reminds me to close my eyes and find that ever-renewing source of silence. Yoga pulls me out of the limitations and pains of this body world, drawing me ever closer to my heart.

And when my body is in pain, yoga is my friend. Yoga comforts me, accepts me as I am, and allows me to rest. Yoga opens me to a greater capacity to love myself.

When I am afraid, yoga holds all of those fears and lets me decide when the time is right to open that door. Yoga eases me into facing those fears and shows me the light that exists on the other side.

When I am lonely, yoga reminds me of the power and beauty in my alone-ness. I learn to steep in that beauty until I become strong.

When I feel disconnected, yoga reminds me of devotion and prayer. Devotion to something much bigger than myself that I may never fully understand. Prayer to intimately connect with that divine mystery - that powerful force that listens to where I am, where I have been, and where I need to go from here.

When I am faced with discomfort, yoga reminds me: this is an opportunity to grow.

When I feel incomplete and imperfect, yoga reminds me I am whole, and perfection only arises from that wholeness

And in those times of peace and wholeness, yoga opens me to bliss. Yoga realigns my body and lifts my spirit back to what is my natural state.

And through all of this, yoga reminds me to reconnect to my breath. A reminder to come back to my own aliveness and to find gratitude there. Gratitude for all of the lessons and the pain, because those lessons and pain made me into who I am today.

My yoga is more than a practice. My yoga permeates my breath, it is with me in my dreams, and it reminds me to open to the world each morning I wake.