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Friday, February 5, 2010

Yoga Myth #9: "Yoga Begins and Ends on the Mat"

Our final myth in this blog series strikes at the heart of the limited view of yoga in the West. If you think that your yoga practice is a physical workout that begins and ends on your mat you are missing the vastness and broad application of the practice to daily life. The core elements of our yoga practice apply to every part of our life. We face resistance in physical and mental formats in our practice that prepare us for those moments in our life when we instinctively resist. There is a popular saying out there (I can't remember where I heard it first) that says, "What you resist persists". This resistance can take many forms but there is always a "contraction" involved, mental and physical.

In our yoga practice on the mat we can become more and more aware of subtle contractions in the body and apply concentrated relaxation methods. Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron but welcome to the mind-body world. According to John Milton, a Tai Chi master and remarkable spiritual teacher "Relaxation and Presence" is the simple reality of conscious living. To learn to relax (surrender) in the face of your own resistance is a powerful outcome of taking yoga beyond the mat. Becoming aware of our mental resistance and physical contractions gives us the opportunity to claim responsibility. The social norm is to blame someone or something else for triggering this reaction if we are even aware of it at all.

Take your yoga beyond the mat by noticing your reactions that are composed of mental resistance and physical contraction. Relax and remain present with the feelings that are triggered and allow them to move through your body like a wave and let them go. Come back to the breath...back to the moment, be present. This simple process will change your experience of life and will undoubtedly improve the lives of those around you.

We will be practicing Beloved Yoga on the mat tomorrow morning at the Milo Boathouse at 10 am. I hope you can make it.

In the mean time relax and be present.


Yogi Jayanta

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