Updated: Apr 27, 2021
While yoga can offer physical health and exercise benefits, that is not the goal of your yoga practice.
Yoga creates space to show up exactly as you are, welcoming that your practice may be different on any given day.
Yoga offers time and space to look inward (introspection) and TO be present with what arises in the layers of yourself (physical, mental, emotional, and energetic).
In yoga, you will be invited to be self-compassionate, self-accepting, and present as you observe your experience.
Stephen Cope writes,
“without self-acceptance, there can be no accurate self-observation.”
In order to fully witness sensations, emotions, and shifts in energy, there must be a practice of being open and accepting to what is.
What does it mean to be self-compassionate? Instead of viewing yourself through the lens of expectations, judgments, and evaluation, self-compassion gives you permission to be human. It welcomes mistakes, adversity, and resiliency with kindness. Try shifting your lens to emphasize care, support, love, and encouragement to your experience.
When you can hold compassion and acceptance for who you are and what is arising, you can begin the practice of being present. In yoga you will be challenged to shift your perspective: Be present, not perfect.
Your expression of a yoga pose does not have to be perfect. Your posture is okay exactly as it is. One day a balancing pose may come with ease; the very next day, the same posture could be wobbly. Practice and observe without judgment.
Kripalu Yoga, the style of yoga taught at Key Therapy, offers 5 steps to the practice of self-observation without judgment.
Breathe: Breath into the situation. How freely can I breathe right now?
Relax: Can I soften into any muscles tensing up right now?
Feel: What are you feeling right now? Sensations (vibrations, pain, tingling, numbness etc.) Emotions (contentment, anger, sadness, anxiety, panic etc.).
Watch: What are you aware of right now? (Thoughts, memories, associations). Resist the judgment of your thoughts. Avoid labeling them as pleasant or pushing away painful thoughts.
Allow: Can you allow the moment to be exactly as it is? Be with it. Be present.
As you begin this process, you will become aware of your patterns. When you are more aware and more present, you will be better able to make a choice that serves you.
Twice a week I offer a 90-minute online yoga class called "Yoga for Mind Body Wellness". Would love to have you join me.
About the Author
Dana Saad is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In addition to conducting private individual counseling at Key Therapy Counseling, she also holds weekly yoga classes (see list of classes here). She completed her yoga training at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and has pursued additional training in Trauma-Informed Yoga (through Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga) and Yoga Nidra (through the iRest Institute). Her Trauma-Informed Yoga classes incorporate a mindful approach to trauma processing, deep relaxation, and mind/body balancing intended to treat current symptoms related to an overactive nervous system.