What does freedom mean to you? In Sanskrit, freedom is “moksha,” and is achieved from overcoming ignorance and desire. Focusing on freedom redirects us to gratitude over the myriad of ways that we in the west live with the luxury of freedoms. Yoga gives us tools to rediscovering personal freedoms as well. With consistent practice, yoga helps us connect the two and recognize the freedoms of everyday living that we sometimes take for granted. Here are three ways that yoga practice guides us to freedom:
1. Yoga liberates the “self.” Through our practice we are taught to build and refine our awareness. This helps us to live more in the present, to release the shadows of the past, to free ourselves from the confines of our self-limiting beliefs and give space for our true self to emerge. Self-acceptance is the stepping stone to self-realization, to aligning with our intuitive sense and being true to ourselves in the decisions we make, no matter how small. Understanding our self helps us to understand our purpose(s), our dharma. This helps us stay “big” in how we navigate our life journey. The entire world benefits when we get to be who we really are. The world community benefits when we recognize the importance to give space, embrace, and appreciate what others are here to manifest too. This in turn frees us from our limited understanding of reality when seen from our own perspective.
2. Yoga ensures our independence. On a personal level, our practice refines the connectivity of body, mind and spirit, and our appreciation for these relationships. This informs our awareness for our interconnection on a global level as well. The more we practice, the more we recognize that “it takes a village” to manifest the growth and evolution of anything positive in this world, that we are all important parts to the whole, and more importantly that we must learn from and appreciate the roles of others. We each give substance to the foundation that is the springboard to what moves our world forward. We get to move forward because of the interconnectedness of those who show up and participate in life and we give others the opportunity to do the same. In other words, we get to pursue our happiness because of the interplay of all that makes the world work, and therefore it is important to do our share to give space for others to have the same opportunity.
3. Yoga gives rise to (peaceful) rebellion. Yoga and mindfulness are now a part of everyday language. To be mindful hones our capacity for awareness of what we see, hear, smell and feel as well as the habits of our thinking process based on using our senses. Practicing mindfulness, teaches us to pause and be reflective before being reactive. Over time this practice helps to drive our sense of compassion and empathy. We broaden our scope to recognize that not everyone has access to the freedoms to which we have privilege. Not everyone is blessed with the opportunities that we often take for granted. The complete circle brings us back to gratitude. This is one way that yoga is considered a spiritual practice. Coming back to gratitude connects us to our Divine source and moves us toward offering ourselves in service, practicing what is known in Sanskrit as “seva.”
By practicing yoga we empower our freedoms. We participate in life, we give back to the world. We liberate ourselves from negativity. Our self-acceptance drives our independence. Recognizing that this is important to everyone, and that all are important to the whole, cultivates connectivity. Appreciating what we have propels our gratitude practice. In practicing gratitude, we become the greatest versions of ourselves, recognizing that our freedom shines a light to the path of service to those less fortunate. To be a yogi is to be the light, a light that shines in the darkness. As you practice today, use a drop of rosemary essential oil, in your hands, and notice how this aroma enhances focus – enjoy your practice!
Join us for more understanding and inspiration on two ancient practices in our online course, October 14 – 26, Essential Yoga Sangha. All participants will receive a copy of our book and DVD – hope to see you in our practice circle!