In anticipation of the upcoming holidays and the extra time with family and friends, I'm thinking about my own tendency to be triggered by certain interactions or relationship patterns. I'm wondering if I have evolved enough over the past year to approach old friends-and-family issues that rear over the holidays in a new way.
One of the things I love most about my yoga community is the real conversations I have with my friends and colleagues there. Conversations that inspire and incentivize me to listen to, and learn from, my own experiences and my reactions to these experiences.
There is a quote that I first heard from one of my yoga teachers, that I have since heard many times across the yoga community: Yoga gives you the tools to deal with the consequences of being yourself.
I love this quote. It is my thought that this is also part of the health aspect of yoga: Being more of who you really are is good for your whole health - your physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
This requires us to acknowledge that yoga is more than a physical practice, but that the physical practice can be useful in physical health in many ways. Not only can the physical practice itself increase strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health, but linking breath with movement can also work in subtle ways, on the "subtle body." I've referred to this as "the magic of yoga" - the time-honored poses and sequences that serve to unlock energetic channels, setting the stage for transformation. So even if you don't know that what you are doing is somehow helping you, it still is actually helping you…like magic.
There are differing perspectives across different yoga schools of thought. My preference is a perspective on a connectedness across creation. Not that we are all striving to become "one" but that there is connection between us all. And there are connections between all the various components of oneself - the body is linked to the mind, which is linked to the subtle body, which is linked to the soul, and so on.
Thus, all that we do affects everything - whether it is an immediate or direct effect, or a more remote or indirect ripple - it all matters.
This gives me peace as I have a tendency to feel that outcomes of actions are important. Remembering that everything I do matters, whether I can see a direct or immediate effect or not, helps me stay on track with the kind of life I want to be living.
What I choose to focus on are the things that are going to help guide me in the direction of health, growth, and evolution. Yoga and my yoga community are integral in that for me. Even in experiences or conversations that are not "pleasant" at the time - I find it is often here that my growth process gains the most steam.
It is in that spirit that I look forward to the holidays and any old patterns that emerge, to see how much I've changed - and how much I can still grow!
Dr. Cindy Haines is a family doctor, medical journalist, and "70.3 yogi." For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.
Published On: December 20, 2013