WHY Yoga & Ayurveda?

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” ~ Matthew 13:45

Sometimes I get the question: “Why have you chosen the path of Yoga and Ayurveda?” The best answer, I suppose, is that I don’t feel as though I chose it. It really has chosen me.

Like most students of life, I arrived at my first yoga class without any background in yoga philosophy, and I wasn’t missing it either. As time went by, I began to experience the benefits of a regular practice in ways that my conventional fitness program wasn’t able to stand up. I began to internalize the “essence” of yoga and would look at my sixty something gray haired, soft, strong bodied yoga teacher and wonder what she ate for breakfast and what kind of house she lived it. I would devour the little bits of information that she would offer that apply them to my life beyond the mat. As I integrated them at home, I found that I felt better. Life seemed more manageable, and I was happier. Lighter. Aches and pains I had felt before were beginning to fade away, and my limiting beliefs that I needed a “workout” began to fade as I felt much deeper, sustainable benefits permeate my life and my body.

Then, over time the benefits begin to awaken a hunger. Yoga gives us each a taste of how to be in the world in a more light and conscious way. It teaches us how to be interconnected to all people, to leave judgment behind and to see the multitude of ways that we are connected to, not different from, each another. And so, this is where the spiritual path really opens up. This is where the realization comes that Yoga includes and embraces all ways of being, all spiritual paths, all religions, and also realizes that we are part and parcel of a much greater purpose, intention, and path than our limited minds can fathom. And that this path is Yoga = Union = Love = Oneness.

And then this hunger becomes a craving… A desire to awaken a certain way each day. A desire to create daily ritual that integrates each breathing moment with walking a spiritual path. So conscious and clear that there is consciousness in what is consumed, purchased, done in one’s spare time. As well, the selection of books, music, magazines, labels, brand names, and the community to which we belong becomes so clear. So honest. So loving. The drama begins to fall away. Pettiness melts. Conflict wanes. Trust waxes. Then, we accept each other and ourselves as perfect in each and every moment, and we seek to be content in every moment, exactly as we are for no other reason than contentment itself. We see food as medicine, and realize the profound “lightness of being” that is available when we eat, fresh, balanced, seasonal, live foods, walk in tandem with nature, and allow God to infiltrate every, breathing moment. The words ‘struggle, hard, and difficult’ are no longer part of one’s vocabulary. Instead, every experience and person is perceived as a welcome teacher.

Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison is a book I use each morning as part of my saddhana. It also inspired this entry. I recommend it. Here is an excerpt:

"A spiritual practice is one that brings us full circle – not to a new self, but rather, back to the essence of our true selves. Yoga is the practice of celebrating what is. At the end of one’s journey, one finds there is no need to go anywhere, that all that is sought was within you all along. It is the aim of all spiritual seeking to bring us home, home to the understanding that we already have everything we need… We are far now from home, and weary from our travels. The sun is setting and there is no destination in sight. Yoga is a lamp lit in the window of our home, dimly glimpsed across the spiritual wilderness in which we wander. At a time when we could not feel further from our home, yoga reminds us that we are already there, that we need simply awaken from our dream of separation, our dream of imperfection.”