Why do you practice yoga?
I’ve been asked that many times over the years. My answers have ranged from “it feels good” to “it’s the closest I can come to dancing.” Both answers remain true but others have emerged.
Without realizing it, we ground ourselves in the foundation given by our parents. My foundation was rocky at best. Growing up, the religion taught in my house was disjointed and confusing. The God shown to me was an angry, condemning, rule-oriented, controlling one and the only thing I wanted to do was run away. I was too young to realize it wasn’t the religion that was wrong; it was the people. It gave me an opinion that all religion was bad.
What Do Yoga And Religion Have To Do With Each Other?
You might ask yourself, what do yoga and religion have in common? A lot…or for me, at least. I went years without anything grounding me. I didn’t know I was searching for just that—grounding, love, acceptance, kindness, the list goes on. These are things we normally receive from our religious practice, but I had none. It makes for an empty heart.
After the birth of my daughter, my heart felt so full to the point of bursting. I had so much love, pride and acceptance of her but very little for myself. I fell into yoga. I say “fell” because literally I came to yoga broken. The beginning stages of my practice were for movement only. I can move and create a dance-like feel for my body that allows me to lose whatever crazy, negative thoughts I had going on for that short period of time on my mat.
However, once I stepped off my mat, all the negative returned.
Seeking Solace And A Safe Place
When I was in a particularly challenging period of my life, I sought out solace and somewhere to feel safe and accepted. I went to my mat. I never really cared for the meditation portion of class, but for the first time, I craved it. I sat in silence. I breathed deeply. The negative chatter in my head didn’t just stop during yoga; it stopped during my everyday life.
My very first yoga teacher told me to “slow down,” and for the longest time, I thought she meant my practice. I understood now that she wanted me to not just slow my movement, but slow down internally as well.
My religion doesn’t take me to a specific building; it takes me everywhere. It’s within me. My thoughts can still flow to the negative, but they won’t stay there long. I have learned to be kind, which seems like an easy lesson. But one of the hardest for me wasn’t just to be kind, but to be kind to myself. I accept me with all the quirks that go along with it.
I make mistakes, I cuss, I get mad, but I’m still learning each and every day. When I return to my mat, I slow down, breathe, and take in the lessons that are being taught to me at that moment.
As an adult I realize the simplicity of my religion is what allows me to move throughout my life with openness and gratitude. I am thankful for all my lessons, even the hard ones. So many things are taught to us during the practice of yoga, so please…slow down, hear them, and incorporate them in your daily life. Breathe in. Breathe out.
by Mina Kashani – Mina feels her yoga journey began at birth when she entered the world in fetal position. Since then, she has worked to strengthen her practice, humor and writing. She is a 200 RYT and when not teaching can usually be found hiking or taking classes from one of the great yoga teachers in Nashville, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
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