These days, I am stunningly aware of the importance of my yoga practices. For myself. For my family. For the world. There are those days that I feel like I am just doing the practice for myself. Just barely making it to my mat or cushion, so that I can feel less anxious, less stressed, less grumpy, whatever it is. But, it is always more than that. Each and every time I practice asana and meditation, there is a shift toward a better state. Something in my that was contracted expands, and there is just a bit more space for light to come through me for myself, for my family, for my community.
As we enter this paradoxical time of the holiday season in the midst of world tragedy, remember that each of us has a role in bringing more light into the world. Practicing yoga is way of creating change, a real and potent way in which each of us shifts our own consciousness toward the light and creates the possibility for more light and peace in the world.
For the past several years, I have chosen as my teaching focus around the holiday time the teachings of the Brahma Viharas, literally, the Heavenly Abodes, the 4 sublime states that are upheld in the Yoga and Buddhist Traditions. These are:
Maitri – friendliness and loving-kindness
When I am really grounded in my yoga practices, I realize that these qualities are natural and even easy to embody. That is to say, I am naturally friendlier, kinder, more compassionate, more able to rejoice in the good fortune of others, and more able to not get caught up by the little things. When I practice yoga, I step into a higher place inside myself and I treat myself and others better.
When I'm tired, feeling un-grounded, grouchy or impatient, I may not embody these qualities so easily. At these times, I have to be diligent and careful. I may have to bite my tongue or really keep my actions in check.
Since I'm bound to feel un-grounded, grouchy, tired or impatient, I figure I better practice every day. The world needs people who are kind, friendly, compassionate, joyful and even tempered. The world needs more light!
Make the world a better place this month. Do you practice diligently. When you practice, you will feel better on the inside. You will speak more skillfully and perform better actions on the outside. The world needs your help! Bring in the light!
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach yoga instructor.