8 ways I practice yoga...and so can you

Twelve months ago I thought yoga was that boring class that people chose to do because they were too lazy to do a real workout.  Twelve months ago, clearly, I was ignorant.  Or maybe I was misinformed.  Either way, my preconceived ideas prevented me from seeing Yoga for what it really is.  You see, it's more than just another class at the gym.  It's more than just stretching and breathing and contorting your body in strange poses. 

There are 8 ways you can practice yoga and you can begin anywhere.  In fact, you've probably already begun, you simply haven't labeled it 'yoga'.

1.    i pose. (asana)
I get on my mat and I strike a pose.  There’s mountain pose, child pose, pigeon pose, happy baby pose, cat pose, lion pose, tree pose, bridge pose, triangle pose, hero pose.  I bend backwards and forwards, I twist and bind, I push + pull, I hold and release, I flex and stretch.  To put it simply, I move my body.

i breathe. (pranayama)
Sometimes it’s long and slow.  Other times it’s fast and shallow.  Sometimes I breathe through one nostril and out through the other.  Some days I use my breath to detox and cleanse, other days I use it to cool me down.  But I like it best when it sounds like the ocean and becomes my soundtrack.  To put it simply, I inhale and exhale.

i sense.  (pratyahara)
I feel sensations arising from moment to moment.  They can be pleasant or unpleasant.   Either way, my body is communicating with me and I’m finally starting to listen.  I’m learning to trust her, because she’s the one that’s always here in the now.

i focus.  (dharana)
I drop the distractions, I clear my mind and I concentrate. I forget about what just happened or what I need to do later.  I drop it all so I can bring my mind to where my body is, the eternal now. 

i observe.  (dhyana)
I hold my seat and become the bare witness, the silent observer.  It is here that there is no judgment, no attachment, and no reaction.  I am aware. 

i inquire.  (niyama)
I keep an open mind.  I question everything.  I let go and make space for anything that is closer to the truth.  I celebrate the mystery of life and embrace the art of not knowing.  I dance to the beat of my own drum.  I nourish my body and purify my mind.  I indulge in radical self love and ignite my divine spark.  But sometimes I get lost, and that’s totally okay. 

i love. (yama)
I open my heart to give and receive.  It’s filled with love, compassion, kindness, equanimity, and truth. Not always, but I’ve seen it many times before.

8.    i bliss out. (samadhi)
When all of the above merge together in the exact same moment, magic happens.  I am flooded with love, peace and joy. 
I am fully alive and awake.  And most importantly, I remember.

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