I am three months into my Yoga teacher training. There was a question in my teacher manual which asked; what does Yoga mean to me? While writing the answer to this very open question, I felt that my reasons for practising
Yoga go hand in hand with the reasons for my spiritual practice as a whole. Yoga is one strand of this path. Reiki is another. Meditation is another. Everything is connected, like everything in life.
For me, any kind of spiritual practice, be this Yoga or Reiki, is the opportunity for freedom that humans crave. Being on this planet in human form is super challenging at times. More and more it feels like the conditions of modern life hinder our sense of oneness, union and connection to love. Instead I see the majority of society which runs on the illusions of separation, fear and competition. Yoga is one of the path ways to consciousness which can enable us to uncover our connection to the entire Universe and to love itself. In Yoga we are encouraged to practice Ahimsa (non violence) to wards others and ourselves. Mikao Usui’s Reiki Principles remind us to be kind to ourselves and others. Yoga and Reiki have similar teachings for us.
I have been practising Yoga regularly for around five years. Before this though, I initially wanted to ‘do Yoga’ so I could look cool if I did a handstand or some very complex looking asana which is in no way functional to every day life as a human. I wanted to become a person who was ‘chill’ because I liked that label. But this preference to be known as a ‘chilled out person’ was a nod toward the truth, that on the inside I was in pain. I was not ‘chill’. So partly my ego chose Yoga, and partly it was a whisper of my soul. I chose to learn Reiki Level One as a self-healing practice, because I liked the idea of being able to soothe myself, because I was in pain on emotional, physical and spiritual planes. Yoga and Reiki have been immensely healing for me.
My first experiences of practising Asanas (the physical postures of Yoga) felt frustrating, pointless and way too much like hard work. I wanted a ‘yoga body’ which in my perception was toned, skinny and with no hint of a curve. I did not have this body but I perceived, through the goggles of wrong mindedness and Body Dismorphia , that the rest of the class did. I judged myself as not good enough. I felt sad and did not go back to Yoga for a long time.
In my five years of steadily building up a practice, Yoga and Reiki have meant many things to me and continue to provide me with benefits, challenge and growth.
Here’s a list:
Pain relief, recovery from Anorexia, physical strength, mental clarity, peace, connecting with me body and not just my busy mind, a vital key in staying sober from drugs, a safe space to move past trauma through my body, challenge, frustration, comparisons, recovery from panic attacks, body acceptance, improved body image, feeling grounded, breaking unhelpful habits (there is a Reiki symbol to really help with this!), being kinder to myself and others, mindfulness, presence, equanimity, a sense of connection to the planet and the universe, stress relief, increased levels of joy, somewhere I could go in the evenings instead of a pub.
May be you have never tried Yoga or received any Reiki before. Perhaps reading of the benefits may gently encourage you to step on to one of these healing paths (or both!) Perhaps you already have a spiritual practice that involves Yoga or Reiki? You might find it helpful and insightful to consider the benefits that your practice gives you, and what it means to you. Connecting with your reason why can help you maintain your practice in the darker times, the times when our spiritual paths can help us the most.
NB: If you feel you may have an inaccurate perception of your body, you may be experiencing Body Dismorphic Disorder. You can totally manage and recover from this. Have a look at this link https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/body-dysmorphia/
Reiki and Yoga are massively helpful too!