Many people initially sign up for yoga class purely because they are eager to slow down, tone up, and have an hour to themselves away from the office or kids each day. And – almost always to their surprise – they end up receiving a lot more than what they signed up for.
The practice of yoga is an incredible avenue for self-discovery and spiritual life enhancement. The spirit of yoga can take us beyond the regular dimensions of the human experience. When we talk about ‘spirit’, we are not talking about Casper the ghost or spooky supernatural beings. We are talking about connecting with something much deeper than ourselves.
At Kaya Health Clubs, we always tell our students that the mat is their mirror. It reflects your greatest loves, your deepest fears, your reactions, your ego, the gaps in your heart that need tending to, and the parts of you that you could work on. Your mat can show you your addictions, attachments and where you are not free. If you use yoga class as a time to go inward, you will almost always find a lot of self-discovery and spiritual growth to be gained.
By this – we don’t mean that Yoga Class is about becoming a ‘better’ person or getting rid of negative emotions by controlling your mind and environment. But rather, it’s about letting go of control and cultivating awareness and acceptance. There is no fixed destination in yoga. There will always be congested traffic, a barking dog, the sound of a sledgehammer at 6 in the morning, or screaming children throwing their tantrums. When we learn to accept these things and accept all parts of ourselves, the good, the bad, the ugly, which is where the true ‘growth’ lies.
As humans, especially humans that have jobs, commitments, children or clients, we can spend a lot of time in our heads! We often have hundreds of tabs open in our minds, being our endless to-do-list, emails that need responding to and errands that need to be run. This can cause a lot of stress and fatigue on our adrenals. Yoga quietens the mind, by offering time and space to connect deeper within yourself and your body. Yoga class encourages you to be aware of the chatter in your mind but to always bring your attention and focus back to the breath.
The slow rhythmic breathing practices and meditative/ relaxation practices of yoga class are designed to ground students and help them find their presence, inducing an overall sense of calm, well-being, stress tolerance, and mental focus.
The yoga poses we do in class, also known as Asanas, definitely contribute to this alignment and a deeper sense of connection. The focus on the body, the stretching, and the long periods of calm focus, all serve to reduce stress and enhance health while helping to balance the enzymes, hormones, mitochondrial and adrenal activity.
However, it’s important to note that the real meaning of yoga is “union”—the union of the body, mind, and spirit. A Yoga Class can unite all the aspects of yourself, or unite you with a higher power or spiritual force. It is not a religious practice, but rather something that is open to everyone, regardless of whether you believe in a God or nothing at all. Perhaps the magic and true spirit of yoga class is that it can be a way of cultivating and remembering connection, and recognizing that this sense of connection is everywhere. For many yogis, this is the spiritual side of the practice – finding connection is what helps them with true spiritual life enhancement.