I've studied how to make Yoga relevant for various needs. Here's a long winded quote that gives depth to what this means. Check out my comments, below.
"Yoga approaches the individual from the inside, through the mind. Yet the individual is not simply a mind, but a system. A vast system. The system is more than the body, which is nourished by food. It is more than breath, more than my relationships, more than my faith. Any influence upon one aspect of the system will affect every other aspect. What we experience in Yoga is a conscious influence and change in the overall system. We may choose to begin with the body, the breath, our food, or our relationships. Whatever the point of beginning, we change the totality of the system. It is impossible to overstate the possibilities of this gradual approach to well-being in our lives.
~ TKV Desikachar
I like Desikachar's reference, "Yoga is a conscious influence and change in the overall system." Yoga isn't about "being twistier than your neighbor," as Tom Myers said.
Yoga is a way of integrating this human experience, which truly is a system made up of various parts like: circulation, digestion/elimination; respiration; musculo-skeletal; mental/emotional; neurological. Yoga suggests that this integration happens through bringing more clarity to the mind.
This system idea is cool. If we're prone to migraines we might find relief from becoming more conscious of stress in our gut, how we're digesting things. Or feeling confidence come back right away when knee pain (or hip or back pain) clears up. Or understanding that I wasn't a bad person; it was just that my hormones were going crazy with menopause.
"Any influence upon one aspect of the system will affect every other aspect."
We get going so fast in our lives. It's tricky to maintain some connection with these different systems inside. The great majority of us haven't been taught how to feel connected with our own body. And it takes time, when the body has gotten out of kilter, to get it back on track. And there's no guarantees, no refund policy, you can't send your body back if something stops working - like your nose falls off.
That's where the next line really speaks to me: "It is impossible to overstate the possibilities of this gradual approach to well-being in our lives."
Maybe you have a mechanical way of going through the motions, how to stretch, how to exercise. Your body is listening. It might even be talking to you. If you can pay a little more attention to her voice, then your approach to well-being can be gradual. If something happens suddenly, though, a change that affects how you walk let's say, or there's accumulated wear and tear, the body's voice is not so subtle.
What I keep noticing is that the body responds to loving kindness. Subtle signal or not so subtle alarm, the body is doing his best to be your friend. Even if your nose falls off.
A distinction needs to be made. We can promote healing. We can't control the outcome. We can do our best and at the very least, find more peace inside of ourselves to manage what life presents.
An approach like Yoga Therapy can be useful. Yoga Therapy is a way of applying tools for the uniqueness that is you, and for how that uniqueness that is you is always changing. You start to recognize what you might have not understood before. And maybe pick up some new pointers about how to communicate through simple awareness; getting enough sleep; being in nature; stretching after spending concentrated time working at your desk.
This has shaped me so deeply. I squared the benefits of becoming a better friend to myself when I began bringing new feelings of self-care into my workout.
However your "Yoga" looks to you, apply these ideas. Become a better listener to your body. Get acquainted with practitioners that you resonate with and get some regular tune up on your listening-to-your-body skills.
An extra set of eyes and a caring presence is a big part of how these teachings were passed on for generations. We're not meant to do this life alone. Our bodies know that.
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