Yoga: The Closest Thing To A Religion For Me
We all want to feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves, if not, what’s the point of anything?
For most, if not all, there’s something we hold very dearly to ourselves, and that can be practically anything. We all crave that spiritual connection with an intangible matter we often find hard to describe.
It can be as simple as a mantra, a principle, a moral value.
I wouldn’t delve into discussing religion, but I’d like to share my connection with Yoga, which some people might consider it to be “religious”, because of how I would describe it to be spiritual.
After all, Yoga and Buddhism have many similarities, and some even consider Yoga and Buddhism as being very similar in terms of the philosophy of life and suffering.
Instead of drawing comparisons, similarities or differences between Yoga and Buddhism, I would talk more about how Yoga has shaped me and changed how I’m living, and how I intend to live in the future.
Mindfulness, gratitude, forgiveness
Before religiously (ha!) practising Yoga almost every day, I have never stopped for a moment to be thankful for anything at all. I was just going through the motion, lugging my body along with wherever it needed to be.
It never occurred to me that dedicating some time every day to some form of commitment to an activity that belonged to me was so important. Important not just for me to reconnect with my mind and body, but also to acknowledge and count my blessings.
There are so many people suffering all their lives in different corners of the world while we’re comfortably getting on with our lives, complaining about small little things that mean nothing other than superficial and short-lived pleasures we won’t even remember a few minutes later.
Every time I step on the mat, first-world problems and stress from work will still cloud my mind, but as the physical demand of the Yoga poses increases, your mind naturally shifts focus on the moment. I’m mindful of the sensations I feel from each pose — that’s what Yoga teaches us yogis.
At the end of the practice, it’s a common practice for instructors and yogis to give thanks to our healthy bodies, which allow us to practise and let go of all that no longer serves us — tension in our muscles and the negative energy stored in our hearts.
Negative energy is usually from us holding on to unpleasant experiences, usually because someone or something hurt us in one way or another. Although it’s impossible to let go of everything, Yoga makes us question why we’re still allowing certain incidents weigh our mind down.
Discipline, consistency, curiosity
I attend yoga classes almost every day, never giving excuses for not wanting to practise. Even on days I don’t attend a class, I would dedicate some time for yogic stretches to maintain flexibility and most importantly, my discipline and commitment to getting certified.
Yogis who are serious about the practice would understand — Yoga is not just a physical activity, it’s a way of life. If there’s no discipline or consistency, one will very quickly stagnate and even lose the progress of practice.
And like any activity, Yoga favours the disciplined practitioners, but discipline alone isn’t enough.
Staying curious despite where one is in one’s journey as an ever-learning yogi — that’s the only way we can consistently move forward and not backwards. There’s always more to learn, and the biggest room is the room for improvement.
The ones who are always challenging themselves because they’re curious how far their body can go, regardless of age or size, will show it in their practice. Fortunately, Yoga is designed to make practitioners literally feel the difference with each practice.
Help, serve, inspire
Beneath the glam and glamour of Instagram-worthy poses flooding the modern Yoga community, lies the hearts of passionate yogis wanting to spread the love for Yoga.
It’s because of Yoga that I feel a duty to help, serve and inspire others to do what gives them the most joy and satisfaction of fulfilling a higher purpose.
I want to focus on the life benefits of Yoga, beyond the awe from others when I can achieve certain poses that look humanly impossible.
Yoga is one of the few activities that is at its core both a spiritual and physical therapy, as long as you have the right mindset during practice.
I may not have the 100% right mindset for every practice, and I know it’s impossible to reach that stage, but I do know that I do my very best to achieve as close to that as possible.
It might sound weird to consider Yoga a religion at all, but it’s the closest thing to a religion I have in my life, and I’m grateful for that. We all need some spiritual connection in some form to connect with ourselves, mind, and body.
Originally published at https://vancewong.com on September 27, 2020.