Yoga: What's Really going on?

Written by on April 23rd 2015.

Has this ancient practice of Yoga been around thousands of years so that I can learn to touch my toes?

 Was this practice developed for people to get rid of pain in their back? Maybe its purpose is for people to discover the body’s flexibility and strength and post it on Instagram.

If so, then why is it that after I have mastered the art of touching my toes or once that aching pain goes away do I still continue to practice?  Why is it that after I have photographed myself in every arm balance and pretzel-like position this practice of yoga still has an appeal and draws me back in?

Perhaps there is something more to this practice … 

In Patanjali’s
famous book of “The Yoga Sutras,” he spells out the real purpose of Yoga in Sutra 1.2. This sutra explains that “the restraint of the modifications of the mind stuff is Yoga.” What?!? Mind stuff? What does my mind have to do with this practice of body and breath?

Simply put, this practice works to quiet the mind by resting your awareness on other aspects of your being. 

The mind is an incessant thinker. Thoughts take us forward into the future or back to the past.  We think about what we like, don’t like, what we want and don’t want. We make all kinds of judgments and desires, which can be a source of great pain for a lot of people. The mind, if left to its own devices, would fill your head with constant chatter. This chatter blocks you from being present and experiencing the fullness of your being. The practice of Yoga works to tame this “monkey mind.” Once we control and quiet the mind, we can find peace. This is no easy task. This is why we use asanas (physical practice) and pranayama (breath control) to help quiet the mind, to bring us into the present moment and let us reside there.   Asanas and pranayama have so many great physical and energetic benefits, but their real magic is how they tame the mind. They allow us to feel the present moment, to connect with it through our bodies and breath. When awareness resides here, it helps to take our attention and energy away from our mind and thoughts. This allows us to connect with ourselves and others in deeper ways, to pay attention to the fullness of our being and more fully experience our life.

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