Growth comes from when things are difficult.
I started practicing power yoga almost 20 years ago. I remember a teacher early on saying that life is hard, so your practice on the mat should be hard. Wow, immediate attention and connection.
The fact is the lessons on the mat are really life lessons.
How we react to the challenge on the mat is how we ultimately will react to the challenges in life. And miraculously, this very physical practice showed me the way to start being less concerned about the outside, and more concerned about what was going on in the inside. This was coming from a very externally physically focused individual.
Power yoga changed my mindset, changed my life. Power yoga is about empowering yourself. Using the physical practice of asana as a tool to help with your day to day life.
Over the last two decades I have read many articles, blogs and random comments in news feeds about power yoga. I have found that it is often misunderstood and given a bad rap.
Some of the misconceptions are:
It’s just exercise and there is nothing spiritual about it.
The philosophical part of yoga is taken out.
Just turn up the heat, move real fast, throw in lots of arm balances and have a kick ass playlist and that makes it power yoga.
It’s Hot Yoga. (And let me just clarify, I have no qualms with Hot Yoga, but the two are different). And last but not least, it’s not real yoga.
When it comes down to it, if we are on the path of truth, self-discovery, trying to make the world a better place…who are we to judge which path is chosen? The point is, we are on the path. And just because something is challenging on the outside does not mean it is not meaningful on the inside.
So after many years in the making (and procrastination), I sat down to set the record straight. This is what came out. Words from the heart of a yogi, not the mind of a writer……what power yoga is and what it is not…
It is NOT yoga for fitness.
It IS yoga for mindfulness.
It is NOT about having a perfect body to feed your ego.
It IS about maintaining a healthy body to house your soul.
It is NOT all about working out.
It IS everything about working in.
It is NOT about the pose or even being in the pose.
It IS about how you get into the pose and how you react to the pose.
It is NOT about how the pose looks.
It IS about how the pose feels.
It is NOT about where you go or learning to stand on your own two hands.
It IS about how you go and learning to stand on your own two feet.
And sometimes in life, when it’s necessary,
it will teach you how to stand on just one.
It is NOT about pushing, forcing, and muscling through physical challenges.
It IS about strengthening the soft and softening the hard through life’s challenges.
Falling. And landing.
Chaos. With calmness.
Options. No conditions.
Slow. Not fast.
Simple. Never easy.
It is NOT about what gets in the way of your practice.
It IS about getting out of your own way when you do.
It is NOT about running from discomfort.
It IS about finding comfortable in uncomfortable.
Not allowing yourself to break down, but giving yourself the opportunity to break open.
It is NOT about listening to the voices of judgment and searching for answers on the outside.
It IS about trusting your silent voice of wisdom only to discover that the answers are already there on the inside.
Picking up the right. Throwing down the wrong.
Stepping on your mat a mess. Stepping off having found bliss.
It is about less drama and more yamas.
It is about coming to your mat and practicing sukha and sthira, ahimsa and satya, saucha and santosha…
The focus is the process, rather than goal oriented madness.
Not being where you want to be, but accepting where you are.
Being guided by intention. Not mindless action.
A moving meditation. Not bending with distraction.
Sweating out the stress. Knowing perfection does not exist.
Trusting the breath never steers wrong, and in surrender you will find strong.
It is about thinking less. And being more.
Becoming less self-centered. And more other-centered.
Looking out for yourself less. Looking into yourself more.
Practicing there, so that you can take it here…
On the mat is where you start. Off is where you begin.
It is NOT about being a perfect person.
It IS about becoming a better human being.