Spirituality can be defined as a sense of connection to something greater than oneself, which includes an emotional experience of religious awe and reverence. Equally important, spirituality influences physical and psychological health.
Cultural historian and yogi, William Irwin Thompson once said, “Religion is not identical with spirituality; rather religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization”.
Yoga is not a religion but it can be the most powerful spiritual journey you may ever take in your life. It is a personal practice which brings us closer to our spirit, our inner guide, our intuition, our emotional and spiritual self. By quieting the mind, we hear the most.
In its simplest form yoga means union: to unite – bringing mind, body and spirit together. To be present in every moment – whatever it is we are doing: walking our dog, or playing with our kids. Each of us arrives with different intentions: peace, empowerment, strength, guidance or just a great stretch. We come to class, free of distraction and honor our personal intentions for one hour, ultimately connecting with our spirit.
Most often, we are too busy to unlock the potential of our mind and spirit. How do we feel? What are we thinking? What is important to us? These thoughts can become overwhelming without deeper examination. We come to yoga to slow down – to breathe deep and focus inward to evaluate.
Yoga can bring us closer to our religion through spiritual contemplation if that is our intention. However, yoga can also create openness in our hamstrings that we have never felt before. Yoga can introduce us to the people in our community – creating new relationships. It can make us physically stronger through sun salutations, warrior poses, plank and downward facing dog. Yoga can help reduce our stress and increase our immunity. Yoga can help relieve all over body pain resulting from chronic illness such as arthritis, insomnia and fibormyalgia. It can also help people going through cancer treatments, recovering from a stroke or dealing with cardio vascular issues.
In our Western World, we tend to dismiss these healing modalities that have been around for thousands of years. Yoga, massage, acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, meditation: they all have merit in healing. They have helped to heal the sick and comfort those with terminal illness. They have helped people become stronger physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Come to yoga with your own personal intention. Erase the misconception that is a religion. Accept that it can elevate your sense self through spiritual meditation.
View massage and acupuncture as a healing modality and not a luxury. For those of you who already do this – hoorah for you! You have found a key to spiritual and emotional health.