Yoga Is The Journey To The Self

Nikki Giovanni

“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.”

Yoga has always been about a journey for me, whether that was a journey to better health or exploring my own existence. It has always represented more than tying my body into knots. It is a discipline that’s inward facing, and disables barriers to change or transition. Not only is yoga a physical exercise that promotes health and healing, but it is also a metaphor for life and what we can accomplish. When we engage in a pose or position, our body is in a state of transition. We are shifting and moving it in a meaningful way. When we are first starting out in yoga or learning new poses our body rebels against the shift because it isn’t something those muscles are used to. Sometimes in life we resist change and fight the transition because we believe that where we are is a safe place and where we could go is potentially dangerous or might hurt us.

Lean In

With yoga we learn that our body accommodates change. With each new pose we grow and learn. The same is true of any change in life, any transition from one form to the next. From student to worker, from single to married, to married to mother or father—these things can be scary before we do them because they are unknown. They require that we leave our comfort zones and do something that isn’t familiar, something that at first may feel strange. Transition is natural and unstoppable, therefore to resist causes more pain than if you learn to lean into it.

Yoga as a metaphor

As I said earlier, yoga is more than physical exercise. It is a philosophy, a way of looking at life that is metaphorical. During your yoga class you are moving from pose to pose, starting with simple breathing and working towards areas of increasing difficulty. This is life itself. Things do get harder as we get older, but we also have more experience with which to fall back upon. Life’s transitions are no different by the time you are transitioning you are already prepared. You have what it takes to move ahead.

Embracing the change

First we learn towards it, and then we embrace it. Change is neither bad nor good, it is just change. What we do with that change makes it bad or good. Accept it, feel it out, and then embrace it. It can be something painful initially like a divorce, or something as benign as a new job—change lets you learn and gives you the opportunity to grow into someone better than you were before.

Journey to self

When you begin taking yoga you are presented with poses that you could not do in most cases, but they are there just waiting for you to grow into them. Yoga is a journey to self. This is how it is described in the Bhagavad Gita. It is about teaching you how to get to that place inside yourself you were meant to go. Whatever challenge is in front of you, even if you don’t feel like you have it within you to overcome it today, is there to help you strengthen yourself and become something fantastic. You are enough. You have what it takes. Just lean in.

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