We commonly hear the phrase: ‘yoga is not just about the physical practise’ and that the poses are just a small part of what yoga is truly all about.  Like many people in our culture that begin yoga, I decided to start for primarily physical reasons. I wanted to be strong, stable, flexible & aligned in a healthy & balanced way. I also was curious about the relaxation and breathing components I had heard about. Yes, I started to see the physical benefits like improved strength & flexibility, reduced aches & pains and improved breathing patterns. But as time went on, I was surprised to see that some other things in my life were starting to shift. The reasons why I practised were starting to change too. I realized that yoga was benefitting me on so many levels (or ‘koshas’): physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually.  My yoga journey looks a bit like this so far:

1993: “It’s challenging. I’m not very good at it, but for some unknown reason, it feels good so I’ll just keep doing it. Madonna does it, so it must be a good.”

1995: “I’m getting better at it! It helps me improve and maintain my flexibility and strength. I love how relaxed I feel at the end of a practise.”

2000: “It reduces my aches and pains is reducing my migraines! My digestion is even better. My teachers keep telling me it’s all about the breath, but I don’t really get what that means.”

2002: “It helps me effortlessly maintain a healthy weight and body image, gives me boundless energy, and inspires me to share it and use it therapeutically in my physiotherapy career. I feel so calm, relaxed, clear, and peaceful, yet energized at the end of practise. Oh and weirdly, I’m getting taller!”

2004: “It’s what keeps me grounded, balanced & centered. I’m learning more about the breath. I’m starting to understand that part of it. I still love how incredibly peaceful I feel at the end of a practise.”

2005: “It’s like coming home. It helps me connect to myself which in turn seems to be helping me connect on a deeper level with others as well. I’m grateful that I am able to share the therapeutic benefits of yoga with others. This is important to me, and my lifelong passion.”

2007: “yoga is helping me be more fully aware and connected to all my layers, or koshas: physical, energetic, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.”

2010: “Yoga is a lifestyle. It’s not just about the physical postures. It’s about what I’ve learned about myself on the mat and then taking it off the mat and into the world. Yoga is a philosophy. It’s about an authentic raw connection to my true self and consequently, to others. It makes me feel so whole, so healthy, and so good, I can’t really express it. I seem to be naturally making healthier choices in all aspects of my life.”

2012: “yoga helps me to love. It helps me to whole heartedly love, embrace and accept myself unconditionally, because only then, can I genuinely love, embrace, guide, and help others, which is a strong passion of mine.”

2013: ” yoga helps me to be open to experiencing my emotions without censorship or shame, and therefore helps me to be completely present and ‘real’ with my family & friends. I believe that this has a ripple effect, and in turn, has the power to radiate a sense of acceptance, support and love to others around me as well. I feel that the result is an even deeper level of interconnectedness with my family, friends and the surrounding community.”

2014: “oh. I guess practising yoga doesn’t make me immune to illness, injury or disease. It isn’t a free ticket to perfect health. It’s a tool and way of life that will help me deal with life in all its challenges and joys.”

Even though I continue to observe the above benefits as a result of my regular (and sometimes not so regular) yoga practise, I am just a beginner, and have so much more to learn. I look forward to evolving & transforming even more as my yoga journey continues.

Oh, and I’m now starting to understand that yoga truly is “all about the breath.”