When we talk about yoga, generally speaking, most of us think of just one of the 8 limbs of yoga: asana- the yoga that focuses predominantly on the physical body.
There are many benefits of practicing yoga, which can include flexibility, strength, increased calm, decreased anxiety, lower blood pressure, stronger immune system, lower "bad" cholesterol, increased "good" cholesterol, weight loss, increased circulation and an increase in one's general feeling of gratitude and well being, among other things. And, we can argue that those benefits are good enough. A strong, healthy & supple physical body and a general overall feeling of well being is essential to move and navigate through life with more Sun than Dark Cloud. This might be enough to get through any day.
But there's more.
Yoga allows one to feed the needs of the physical body, first, so that one can then stay still. When we think about meditation, we imagine sitting in half lotus or easy pose with tall spine; hands on knees in gyan mudra (thumb & index finger together), eyes closed. So let's go with that. The physical yoga helps our body to sit still with less agitation and resistance.
Meditation is the next level of "work out." Here, we are building our mental strength and endurance. Expanding our capacity to stay still and go within. It is within ourselves that we find what holds integrity for us; what contains that which fulfills us. It is our ability to tap into that stillness within us that determines how much, what I like to call, our self-navigation output volume is amplified. If it is not amplified enough, you may experience yourself to be riding the "sound waves" of those who seem more "amplified." It is a dis-empowering feeling.
As we continue to practice meditation, our prayers begin to shift.
It is said that our prayers are always answered. There are studies that demonstrate the impact of prayer on patients in intensive care, which really is incredible. But I still always had trouble fully believing the power of prayer.
Until I understood that our thoughts are prayers. And our feelings are thoughts are prayers. Which means that a positive thought can be cancelled out by a negating feeling. The alignment isn't there.
I have no trouble believing that our feelings, thoughts & beliefs dictate how I show up in this world and thereby contribute greatly to my own experience and manifestation of the world around me. So this makes sense to me, and it explains inconsistencies.
Tapping into my stillness through meditative practice slowly shifts all that from one that destroys me to one that elevates me. It allows for positive self talk to emerge. It begins to increase a sense of emotional intelligence, self- worth, self-referral, memory, and the courage to then align my actions with my thoughts, getting closer to total alignment, where manifestation happens.
Prayer can begin to shift on its own, and in its own time, with enough diligence in meditative practice. Or it can be helped along more quickly by intentionally choosing our words, and practicing this as often as possible.
Going into these next levels of "workout" slowly begins to integrate the other limbs of yoga into our practice, turning yoga asana practice into a wholistic yoga practice that allows the sense of peace & empowerment that we experience while we are on the mat off the mat and into every other part of our lives.
Kundalini Yoga Quotes:
“I’d never felt anything like it; it was just an opening of energy and a feeling of such liberation.” -Marika Bethel, owner, Glowing House