I’m not here to sugar coat it, if you’re not stretching because it’s a “girly thing” and “easy” you seriously need to check your ego; and then do a little bit of reading to enlighten yourself.
Luckily I’m not the one you came in contact with when you said that stupid comment, because I definitely would have tried my best to enlighten you. It’s a big world with a ton of information floating around, much of it fills our minds with nonsense so we think we know things, but the truth is, we only know our perception of what we “think” something is.
First thing first, I want to talk about athleticism. In 7th grade, I was the fastest girl in my county; I ran the 100-meter dash in 12.4 seconds and held the record at my school for a while. Then, in high school, I became a dancer. In college, I started lifting weights and became hooked.
Then one day, I did a yoga class and I experienced major stress relief.
The reason I mention all of this is because people see yogis and they stereotype them. Yoga to me wasn’t about the stretching and it still isn’t. It was about what happened to me that day to relax me and that is why I became a yoga teacher. It was because I experienced an unexplainable calming response (that almost made me feel like I could float) after a class and knew I needed the benefits of yoga in my life. But this isn’t about something you said about me, it’s about your perception of what you think yoga is, so I’ll continue..
So let me explain my sassiness, I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day and he was telling me that he overheard two guys in the gym saying that yoga is a “girl thing”, it’s “too easy” and that is why they don’t do it. I understand many people have this preconceived notion as to what yoga is (poses and stretching); but in reality, you will never know what yoga is until you experience it for yourself. Yoga is way more than stretching or poses. Yoga is a system towards complete mastery over your mind.
Yoga was traditionally a male practice.
Back in the day, I’m talking pre-Jesus days, yoga was practiced. It was something that was done with one’s own body to move it, work it, test it’s strength and calm the mind. Yes all of this was done before weight machines, dumbbells, pilates reformers, basketballs, balls of any sort, etc, etc. Humans used their own body to work it out and what those humans found was that this lovely little practice worked wonders. It made them feel better, helped them to move freely, it cured illnesses, it corrected spinal problems, it gave them clarity, it helped with depression, headaches, back pain, pregnancy, and the list goes on and on…
But guess what, this practice was mainly practiced by men. It was the masculine thing to do. It was the masculine thing to be able to lift and move the body by his own strength (think arm balances and handstands). It was extremely sexy to the women for a man to know his mind, feelings, and emotions and be in complete control of them. And guess what, it still is extremely sexy for men to have control over their mind, desires, and attachments. But since there aren’t as many men doing yoga, you can see why I’m even writing this blog post to begin with.
Long before there was psychology and psychotherapists, there was this practice of yoga. It helped people to know about themselves. It helped them to discover deeper aspects of their personality and habits and learn why they did what they did. From the beginning of time, we have all wanted to know more about the mind- how it works, and how we can work with it. Yoga gets you closer to understanding the mind than any other practice in the world and you will only understand this once you begin the process of yoga.
Yoga is… an eightfold path.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one’s health, and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature.
1.Yama (Ethics) – The first limb, deals with one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. Basically: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The five Yamas are:
2. Niyama (Observe) – the second limb, has to do with self-discipline and spiritual observances. Developing your own personal meditation practices, or making a habit of taking contemplative walks alone are all examples of niyamas in practice.
The five Niyamas are:
Tapas: heat; spiritual austerities
Svadhyaya: study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self
Isvara pranidhana: surrender to God