The small magnetic calendar was a gift this holiday season and one of my favorites. With every new day comes a quote from Eastern philosophers and the quote from Monday, February 3rd struck a cord in my heart.
"The purpose of our practice is to just be yourself." -Shunryu Suzuki
Having been practicing for almost five years now, this statement sometimes gets lost amongst the shuffle of routine. Why do I practice? As I sat there thinking about why I step onto my mat day in and day out, I started to fall in love with yoga all over again.
I practice because time on my mat is truly about me. I like to be alone with my thoughts as it helps to settle my brain and body. Yoga helps me let go of expectation and embrace inspiration and growth. I practice because it feels good to move organically and breathe deeply but most of all, I practice because I deserve to be happy.
After thinking about this statement and how yoga has impacted my life, I asked the other ladies of MYF why they practice and their responses gave me goosebumps.
Justine: I have always known that I needed to move my body to feel free and open in my mind. In college, I started running regularly, not competitively but more as an outlet to help me regulate stress and “get the wiggles out”. It was years later that I was introduced to yoga and it wasn’t love at first try for me. The slowness and quiet almost made me feel anxious. I will admit that I was one of those people that rolled up their mat before savasana because “I had too much to do”. My practice has evolved tremendously over the years and now it is the slowness and quiet that brings me to yoga. I love being in a room with others breathing in unison and having my thoughts be purely focused on the simple task of inhaling and exhaling. I love that my practice is never the same, sometimes energizing, sometimes light, sometimes draining. To me, yoga has become this enormous onion and the excitement and allurement of knowing that my practice will continue to transform keeps me coming back to my mat.
Dana: The initial intent behind my practice was self-care. Yoga allows me to mentally tune everything else out and connect with myself. Throughout the process, it has also brought me into a large community of great people with whom I have forged wonderful relationships. Tune in to open up - that is why I practice.
Terri: After recurring knee injuries and surgeries, I started practicing yoga as a last resort. After my first class, I was hooked. I practice regularly because it has opened my mind and body in ways I never could have imagined. It has given me strength, both inside and out, that I never knew I had. It has introduced me to an amazing community that feels like family. It makes me feel very whole and very happy (and I'm grateful that my knees don't hurt).
Regan: In the beginning, I practiced yoga purely to cross train for tennis in college because it was mandatory. It wasn't something I considered doing on my own or for the rest of the my life. As I got older, I realized I was missing something in my work outs and came back to yoga. Now it means so much more to me. I practice to help my flexibility, reduce stress and find a sense of calm in a balanced body. I also love the amazing people who make up our yoga community. After I walk out of a studio, I am happier, uplifted and relaxed - who doesn't love that feeling? And that is what keeps me coming back.
Yoga is a practice that is always there whenever you need it. It is all knowing, all encompassing and allows you to continually discover new things within yourself. It is nice to sit back and reflect on the love we all share for yoga - so ask yourself: Why do I practice?
Kelly Casey handles Social Media and coordinates the volunteers for Maine YogaFest.
Any questions? Don't hesitate to ask: Kelly@maineyogafest.com