For me, yoga is the key that brings my life into harmony. It's the necessary discipline and sacrifice I need to make to keep my life flowing. With out this discipline, I find myself less able to cope, more afraid, more self-critical, and not as happy. Yoga has the same effect a glass of wine has on my dinner and cooking experience, the same effect great sex has on a date with my husband, the same effect laughter has on my child. Yet, yoga is something that comes from within. The other wonderful experiences are all external, but for yoga all I need is my willingness to be, breath, move and feel. This year, much about my journey (as so applicable for this time of year) is a drawing inward - a movement away from the external roads to happiness and towards a truer, deeper, long-lasting satisfaction. I want to know, once and for all, what true happiness is, and I have everything I need for that journey right now. The following is an excerpt from Erich Schiffman's book Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness.
The first time I saw someone practicing yoga I had mixed feelings. On the one hand I was attracted, there being something profoundly right about what I was seeing. On the other hand there was a mysterious, exotic, and ancient air about it that made me nervous. I had never seen anything like it before. It seemed powerful, almost bizarre. The man I was watching obviously knew what he was doing, and he seemed to have access to a hidden reservoir of energy. Questions like "Why in the world?" and "What for" raced through my mind. Reactions like "so what", "crazy", and "fanatic" filtered through and yet I was deeply impressed. I wanted to know what twisting and bending your body coud have anything remotely to do with God, life, meaning, or happiness. What was yoga all about? What relationship could it possibly have with anything? With my life, my perceived problems, global issues, despair, hopelessness, the alleviation of suffering, making a difference, enlightenment... ? And like many things in life, we can never know in advance the full impact something is going to have on us. Reasons for our initial involvement may pale and lose importance as we move deeper. We change and learn, often in unexpected ways. The simple perspective I have come up with, through all the years and thousands of hours of practicing yoga and meditation since that first exposure, is that yoga makes you feel good. It's relaxing. It's energizing. It's strengthening. You feel better at the end of a session than before you began, and life runs more smoothly when you maintain a consistent discipline than when you don't. Yoga enhances your experience of life. It changes your perspective. You thereby find yourself spontaneously embracing a larger, more accurate conception of who you are, how life works, and what God is. You start seeing things differently, with less distortion - which results in more peace of mind, better health, more enthusiasm of life, and an ever-growing authentic sense of inner well-being. As you practice yoga and mediation regularly, this subtle sense of feeling good gradually becomes so pervasive, so natural and genuine, so much a part of you that it carries over into the whole of your life. And in doing so it helps clarify your deepest longings, motivation, and aspirations, thereby restoring optimism, hope, meaning, and purpose to life. -Erich Schiffman, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness