Happiness is Only a Savasana Away

Jenna Lamar, one of the instructors of Yoga at UBC Recreation shares her perspective on the benefits of yoga practice and how it can be something you incorporate into your daily activity!

 

When you hear the word ‘Yoga’, what comes to mind? For most people, the physical asana practice is what’s commonly understood as ‘Yoga’. Although this may be one aspect of the practice, the healing and health benefits aid in peace of mind, stress reduction and life balance. The westernization of yoga as an exercise for fitness has become widely popular in modern society. Although performing the asana postures is significant to ancient tradition, this is only one limb of the eight limbs of yoga. The authentic roots of yogic practices stem from the idea of oneness, unconditional love and compassion for oneself and all beings, and provide many benefits.

 

 

1 . Connection to Oneself

My personal journey with yoga has deeply connected me to my body, mind and spirit, and has opened me to more genuine and empathetic connections with the world around me. Through the study of different ‘masters’ and their techniques, I have come to conclude that the essence of any yogic practice (breath work, meditation, asana postures, ritual, chanting, etc.) teaches mindfulness.  When we dedicate time to our practice, we come to realize the stillness and silence of internal peace. When the mind begins to slow down, the awareness of the body strengthens. The more aware we become of our bodies, we begin to accept and appreciate the unique way in which we have been created, leading to self love. Every single body is different in a divinely beautiful way (yet also incredibly similar), and coming to explore this truth in your own body builds a healthier relationship with oneself.

 

  1. Balance

There are so many styles of yoga that one could enjoy, from a rigorous ashtanga based flow to a slow restorative practice. Both the yin and yang style of body movements/stillness will serve a purpose and balance one with the other (you could apply this yin/yang theory to all areas of life). This is especially helpful when immersed in any stressful situation, such as deadlines, exams or projects. When we listen to our body’s signs- subtle to intense- we create a harmonious relationship with our inner world and physical vessel. This is so important in keeping a peaceful mind and maintaining overall health. Being in a yoga class requires astute awareness of the body and mind. To balance in these postures or to focus so attentively on your breath will automatically activate areas of the brain that are necessary for performing these tasks. In any yoga class you will realize how your breath and your body must be your greatest teacher. You already know how to move, how to breathe, and how to be still… a teacher is simply there to remind you and redirect you inward.

 

  1. Healing

On a physical level, yoga asana movement can be tremendously healing for the body. In this fast-paced, demanding world we are often so busy in our minds that we do not focus attention on the habitual patterns our bodies assume- this can be termed as a “docile body”. Getting out of your head and into your body is crucial for an awakened experience and integration of any information. Many of us might go to the gym or go on run, but when we do these things, where is the mind? In a yoga practice, mindfulness of breath is repeated often so that one develops strong samadhi (focus). This is the essence of many forms of meditation. The self-healing ideal is that no matter where you find yourself, awareness of breath and sensation is always present. The asana postures offered are not some final goal of how you can bend and fit the body into specific shapes, but rather a suggestion for how to open the body energetically and physically so profound release can occur.

 

  1. Stress Reduction

Turning to yoga during some of the most demanding times of my student life, I have been able to calm my body and mind in order to accomplish stressful tasks. Attempting a highly coordinated task requires great patience and presence. Sitting in complete stillness and only focusing on breath is an incredibly demanding task, but somehow may feel like the most peaceful ‘doing’ one has taken part in all day! When we start to meditate, the monkey mind may go crazy, filling our heads with incessant chatter…but over time one comes to understand the impermanence of all things. Rather than letting the thoughts take us on a tangent, we start to separate from the mind and simply observe as they come and go. Realizing this truth, one will discover contentment in the moment. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, or whatever feelings may be present, underneath the matter is a knowing that everything is alright and constantly changing. Holding onto any ‘constant’ is impossible, because no such thing exists. Yoga/meditation show us our true nature: emptiness, bliss, and wisdom.

 

Overall, I have faith that a yoga practice can help anyone in some way. I encourage my fellow students and faculty to have an open mind and take advantage of the yoga classes offered in your community. We must come together to support each other in play and relaxation for the benefit of all. When we let go and surrender to our own rhythmic flow, happiness is only a savasana away.  – J