So, tomorrow is the last day of the 30 day yoga challenge, and I accumulated 14 classes of the 26 I needed. Not as impressive as I would have hoped, but if you average it out, that is a yoga practice about every other day...which is impressive. It got me to wondering...if I had merely dedicated myself to practicing every other day rather than trying to rack up doubles and such to hit 26, would my body and spirit have held up better? Perhaps if I had realized my limitations and accepted my body for what it is at the start of all this, I could have ended it in a better place. So, I learned something!
I would like to give a shout out to Kimberly Loll, though! (Awesome yogi and author at the blog Sisters in Blogging) She has two more days to complete her challenge, and I can't wait to see how far she gets! Her resolve and willingness to take her Child's Pose when she needed it were amazing! Good luck, Kim-- finish strong!
But back to the "spirit" part of all this...Last weekend I accepted that I wasn't going to force yoga anymore (finally, right?). So when my amazing husband surprised me with an amazing weekend in Memphis, TN, I didn't force waking up early to drive around town looking for the one yoga studio he had found online; instead, I decided to sleep in with my husband and go enjoy breakfast at the most wonderful little cafe on 2nd street.
And my spirit thanked me.
I've often wondered about the spirit's connection to yoga. So many people connect the idea of "spirit" to religion, and many people are hesitant to "buy into" yoga because of all the "spiritual mumbo-jumbo" that they perceive yoga to be based on. But I think it's important to recognize that while some one's spirituality can inform his/her practice of yoga, it is distinctly separate from that person's spirit.\
Spirit has so many connotations in our society. It can be based on our religion (ie. the "holy spirit"); it can also be based on our excitement or passion (ie. "spirit squad"); it can be based on a liveliness (ie. "she has so much spirit"); it can be about real and intended meaning (ie. "the spirit of the law"). I also believe and operate under the assumption that it can represent our essence-- My spirit is the essence of who I am as a person. Healthy or ailing, happy or sad, empty or full...it is my responsibility to take care of my spirit.
In that sense, I truly think that the spirit is yoga. Yoga is the time we take on our mat to dedicate to our breath (finding balance and calm), our body (finding health and flexibility), and our mind (to focus on positive thoughts and healing). When we consider all of those things together, we are taking that time to repair and take care of our spirits-- of ourselves.
None of that has to do with religion or faith. It can do with religion or faith, if you choose for it to do so. If your spirit, your essence, is rooted in a strong faith, then you will bring that to your mat. Then your meditation, your breathing, your practice will reflect that faith. Your spirit will feel stronger because of that faith. I am a woman of faith, and I like to believe that my spirit and my faith are intertwined, and my yoga practice makes both stronger.
But, if you do not have strong faith in a religion, or any faith at all, does that mean that yoga is inaccessible? is crazy zealotry? mumbo jumbo? No. If you think that, I encourage you to scroll back a few paragraphs. No matter what religion, philosophy, or doctrine you choose to follow or believe in, no matter if your life is faith based or science based or both, yoga is about spending the time on you to improve, repair, and take care of you.
Your spirit-- the essence of who you are-- deserves that care.