For the most part, we live in a frenetic, demanding, fast paced society. We plan, plot, and do. We have schedules, responsibilities, and parties to attend. We are constantly on our iPhones texting, posting, and emailing.
The mind learns to multi-task, the body takes a beating, and the heart becomes agitated.
Yoga gives us the tools to be calm in the storm. To be more mindful in mundane tasks, to treat our bodies well, and to trust the heart’s intuition. Learning to focus on our breath to simply be and take a break from all the doing. Becoming more flexible not only in the body, but in the mind as well.
Inevitably this makes for a more compassionate and patient person in a world that can be quite frustrating. At least this is the case with my own history of yoga. I grew up a dancer and an athlete in a small town in upstate New York. I had never heard of yoga until I moved to New York City when I was 18. I didn’t attend a class until I was 21.
I didn’t start practicing yoga until I was 25, burnt out from working too many hours at a stressful job, impatient with my life and the people around me, and slowly realizing that a big city, ego-fueled lifestyle might not be the means to a happy end.
It would be a couple of years before I would realize that yoga was the catalyst in changing my perspective on what is truly important in the time we’re given on this earth.
Because yoga is a lifelong learning process with an emphasis on regular practice, it provides a constant reminder to be present in this crazy world. The further down the path you go, the longer the path seems to extend with more questions than answers.
Yet once you begin to see yoga’s simple truths taking shape in your life off the mat, you realize just how desirable this particular road happens to be. On this road there are no shiny cars, no fancy jewelry, no new toys.
Instead there is freedom and contentment — things that cannot be bought with any sum of money.
Yoga is becoming exponentially more popular worldwide than ever before. More people are practicing yoga and reaping the benefits. People are training their bodies to be calm in awkward and uncomfortable positions. They are learning to breathe through the discomfort and find peace and a deeper opening than they knew possible.
These lessons translate from body to mind. Whether or not the yogis realize it, their minds are learning to deal with daily life in the same way.
The body subconsciously begins to tell the mind how to process difficult situations.
In a perfect world this means that society will become a more empathetic and loving being. More aware and thoughtful and tolerant. The materialism, competition, and greed will fade from a bullhorn screech to an imperceptible hum.
Of course this is the case in a futuristic ideal world, but if we all keep coming to our mats, that world may not be so far away.