Yoga for me is a one stop shop to the good life. The benefits are endless and are far more extensive than most people realise.
Yoga to most people is the practice of asanas (yoga postures). Asanas are great, they keep me in good shape and I love exploring my body and pushing my boundaries. Mostly I love the journey between where I am one day and how my body progresses the next. It fills me with joy to know that although my body is getting older, I am getting stronger both physically and mentally as each day passes.
Yoga isn’t just great for the postures though, it has transformed the way I look at Life. I try not to get stressed over things that have no impact on my basic survival and I live an all-round happier life as a result. I don’t compare myself to others and I try not to worry what others think about me. I won’t spend every waking hour working and I always strive for a good work-life balance.
If we stop and contemplate how we live in the western world today, how we covet money and material things to try and achieve happiness, we can start to identify what we expect, according to our culture, to bring us happiness. We save up for that rainy day or so that when we are old, we have a pot of money to keep us company in our old age, as a kind of insurance or back-up fund. We even set ourselves targets relating solely to our income “if I can just earn X thousand a year, I will be happy”, “if I can just buy myself that new car – I will be happy.”
The problem with that kind of thinking is that we place too much importance on accumulating that pot of money, instead of prioritising maintaining good health and positive relationships with our children, friends and families. Some of us even work harder and longer hours so that we can afford child care or nursing homes, so that someone else gets to spend time building and maintaining good relationships with our loved ones. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that our work-life balance is a little out of whack. Work less and more efficiently and only seek to procure things that add real value to your life. If you can do that you can see those you love and care for more often and you will have time to take care of yourself and lead a healthier more minimalistic lifestyle. After all, I know that if I walked into any retirement home and asked a resident what they value most in life, the answer would be time with their loved ones and their health – not that BMW they once owned but couldn’t really afford. I can guarantee that most of them would spend more time with their loved ones if they could and they would certainly have their healthier years back. My favourite quote from the Dalai Lama, expresses just how far from the path of happiness we truly have wandered…
The Dalai Lama when asked what surprises him most about humanity answered:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.