Yoga for the Unstill

Happy in one of my favorite poses.
Happy in one of my favorite poses.

Yoga has become pretty popular in the US. It shows up in the news, social media, articles, sitcoms, dramas, movies, commercials and parodies.  I have seen it all from Laughter Yoga to Karaoke Yoga, including everything from its ancient Indian roots to its totally Americanized style. Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston love yoga, while Brad Pitt’s second wife, Angelina Jolie, commented a few weeks ago that she has “no patience for yoga” because she is “not a still person”.

I get comments like that all the time from people who tell me they do not practice yoga because they cannot be still or move slowly. The funny thing is that those who are not “still people” are the ones who would benefit the most from yoga.  And the even funnier thing is that most people in the our culture are not naturally still and slow, in their minds at least, if not also in their bodies.

The reason we need yoga so much in our society right now is because the messages we receive from every direction tell us that more is more and task equals success. I see people admitting guiltily on Facebook that they have been lazy all day and not accomplished anything, as if it’s a bad thing.  We wear ourselves out all week with work, family and exercise and then beat ourselves up for lounging on the couch on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  The reason we need yoga and time on our mat is because it gives us active permission to slow down and care for ourselves, body and mind, with the knowing that the world and all of its assignments will be waiting for us when we step off.

I am not and never have been a “still person”. If anything, I am naturally the total opposite.  And my mind may move even faster than my body wants to most of the time. This is why I LOVE yoga! Until I developed a regular yoga practice, I had no idea of the benefits of stillness. I did not know how challenging it could be to hold a posture, difficult or not, for an extended amount of time while trying to keep my thoughts in one calm and positive place. The wonderful part is that I still get to move my body and shape it into big and open poses while I work on mental clarity and peace.

The practice of yoga takes time to cultivate, but when it becomes a regular part of your life, you will crave it and become naturally aware of times when you need it most. If you feel you are somehow different because stillness is difficult for you, rest assured you are not. But the benefits of slowing down and getting still will enhance your life and provide you with a tool that will be there for you throughout your journey.

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