Yoga is like couples counselling with your own Self; its purpose is to create a healthy relationship between you and your body.
One of the greatest perks of yoga is how it manages to heal your relationship with your body. I often say in yoga class that you can really tell your practice is working well when you notice your relationship with both your thoughts and your body is starting to get healthier.
Often when we begin to practice yoga, it will highlight our current relationship to our thoughts and the way it feels to rest within our own skin. We become aware, in some cases for the first time, how it feels to really be with our body, and the way in which we relate to our thoughts.
We may sometimes get into an unhealthy relationship with our thoughts without consciously realizing it. Sometimes there is a fight that happens in our heads that we don’t even notice. Just like we fight in our human relationships when we feel scared or unmet, we can fight against our own self with the various inner experiences that arise. The resistance that happens to sensations that arise in the body, or thoughts that arise in the mind, may not be apparent until we start to practice witnessing thoughts in mindfulness, or breathing into sensation with loving awareness.
I often will ask students during meditation at the end of yoga class to really take time to ask themselves, “What type of relationship do you WANT to have with your body? If you had a magic wand and could make it be however you want it to be, what would it look like? How would you be with your body if you had full choice about it?” After recognizing how you want to be with yourself, the process of repair can take place. We can gradually let go of old habits, and start to make it a priority to consciously connect with our bodies.
The benefits of this practice are invaluable. Making peace with your body and mind, as they are, leads to living in harmony with your whole world. This change in relationship status with yourself spills off your yoga mat and into your human relationships, too. When your relationship with yourself is healthy, it’s only natural that your relationships with your spouse, children, parents, and co-workers start to look healthy as well.
There is a popular saying in spiritual circles that says “without awareness there is no choice,” and the goal of yoga is to bring you into a state of heightened awareness. The trick is to recognize that the thoughts present are also being witnessed. Yes, thoughts are arising, but WHO is listening? The sensations in the body are being felt by an awareness; what is that awareness? YOU are that witness, you are that awareness. And as we gradually come to learn this, we can start to move into harmony with all the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise in our world, both on and off the mat.