Why Practice Yoga?
By: Lisa Conner
By: Lisa Conner
When asked, “Why should one practice Yoga?”, my mind runs through all the amazing physical benefits of learning and working through different yoga poses, and how it keeps my arms and legs toned and helps strengthen my core, and how it relieves stress and mental anxiety. I started to write about all the great things yoga can give your body such as flexibility and balance. I wrote about how it could improve your cardio and circulatory health, relieve back pain, and increase energy.
But as I finally stopped writing to take my online yoga class I kept asking myself “Why am I practicing yoga”? And the answer came. I practice yoga because over the past 13 years it has become an essential part of my life and the core of who I have become.
It occurred to me, the real challenges for yogis come once you’re off your mat. In the real world living your life that’s where the real practice comes in.
Proof of that came when I realized that one of the first things I thought about when we were first quarantined was “what about my yoga students, how will they practice?” How can I make a video or record some practices for them? I quickly texted the Kroc Center and asked how I could bring some yoga to our members and they kindly gave me the authorization to use their Facebook platform.
What was I….. thinking? I’ve never made a video of myself teaching yoga, I’m in my fifties for goodness sake! But I’d already committed, so all I could do was plow onward.
I turned my dining room into a yoga studio and began learning how to tape myself live on Facebook, which I hadn’t used since 2017. I didn’t know how to set up this or that or how to go LIVE. I’m not a millennial, I was born in the ’60s!
I’ll never forget the little panic I felt deep down inside when I was ready to go live for the first time, but I decided then and there that no matter what happened I had an intention and I was doing this for a purpose. A purpose I loved.
I’ll be honest here, some of the videos, were, let’s say, not so great. One of the most nerving things is to watch a replay of yourself, talk about cringing, I wanted to crawl under a rock.
Some would stop streaming in the middle or at the very beginning while my eyes were closed and I didn’t even realize it had frozen! Some were blurred and the sound was terrible. The light was too dark or too bright. My voice sounded like Minnie Mouse.
Notifications would spring onto the screen and my eyes would bulge trying to read what they said, and for some reason, I couldn’t stop saying Um! It was like Um so we’ll be doing this and Um we’ll be doing that. Did I need a linguistics expert or what?
But then, I noticed a little thumbs up symbol and a little heart symbol and comments and text messages from my students saying thank you and sending kind words. What a gift those were at a time that had been so difficult. This was one of the best things I could ask for during this time. I wasn’t doing much but, for the first time during this quarantine, I was doing something that felt right and good down in my bones.
As I got through one video after another it began to get easier and I came to a huge realization; These yoga practices may not be as much for my students as I originally thought. This lesson, this journey was for me. I was the one practicing the skills I’d learned over 13 years on my mat. Lessons of humility, self-love, self-acceptance, patience, tolerance, courage, and resilience.
I’ve done many things in my lifetime. I’ve run my own businesses, worked, and managed all sorts of occupations but I realized that the person I was on my yoga mat, whether I was practicing or teaching was one of the best versions of myself, what some yoga experts would call my Higher Self.
This must be what true yogis such as B.K.S. Iyengar speak of through the Sutras of Patanjali. It’s about noticing an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and happiness. About coming home to yourself.
Why practice yoga? Of course for the amazing physical benefits of flexibility, balance, and strength. For the feeling of bliss after shavasana and being recharged and refreshed. For the release of stress and the hush of the minds chatter for a good night’s sleep. Those are absolutely wonderful.
But if you look closer you may find that the inspiration you have found in your practice is beyond any yoga pose you will ever come to know. And the feeling that you finally know yourself may be the answer. Why practice yoga? Only you can find the answer to that question.
*Lisa Conner has practiced yoga for 13 years and has been a certified yoga instructor since 2018. She was the owner of the organic spice company Spice Society. Prior to yoga, Lisa was a ballet dancer for over 16 years and taught aerobics and cross-training. She is currently the owner of Yoga Jardin, a yoga lifestyle company, and is the author of “Creating Yoga Sequences; Your Journey to Writing Inspired Practices” which will be published this Summer. She has been married for 20 years and has three children.