We all have a tendency to talk about ourselves as separate from our bodies. For example I woke up this morning feeling a little lethargic and said to myself, “I think my body needs a Yin Yoga class” ( a meditative style of Yoga where you hold poses for several minutes), instead of thinking I need a more gentle class this morning. I give myself credit for acknowledging what I needed as opposed to following my usual Sunday routine of doing a cardiovascular workout. I did find it somewhat humorous to note how ingrained in me it is to think of my body as its own entity. It’s as if we think of ourselves from the neck up as we walk around. Then suddenly we’ll feel something in our bodies and pay attention to that until we get distracted by something else; often we have to be in a lot of pain to finally pay attention to what our bodies are trying to communicate.
That’s the beauty of Yoga, which means union in Sanskrit (the ancient yogi language). What is being unified is our mind-self and body-self, and this is done through the breath and the concentration of the mind on the breath. Usually our minds are off thinking thousands of thoughts, some of which are important, but mostly our minds spend a lot of time reliving the past and anticipating the future; in other words just a lot of chatter. This keeps us from being awake to the present moment, and much of our lives pass by with little awareness of ourselves as active agents in life.
Practicing Yoga trains you to focus your mind on your body and become more conscious of yourself as an integrated being; this translates to having a more integrated experience of life. Yoga also trains you to observe your thoughts and distinguish between thoughts and reality. You become the director of your brain, as opposed to the brain being the director of what you’re thinking and ultimately experiencing, which leads to more emotional stability. For example a thought such as ” I never do anything right” , left unchecked, becomes the truth, and then our mood shifts as we feel hopeless, etc., etc., etc. What experts we all are at inflicting self-torture!
Next time you are practicing Yoga or just walking down the street, pay attention to your whole self and feel the ground under your feet, and give your mind something more interesting to pay attention to then its own self-generated thoughts.