How yoga can help to make the right choices
If we cannot see the wood for the trees. How to make the right choices when there are so many?
There are moments in life when we face a situation with multiple options, and this can make decisions very difficult. The English phrase we might use for this situation is ‘we cannot see the wood for the trees’, meaning that we can get so caught up in the details that we lose sight of what we really need or want.
When this happens and we’re struggling to make sense of things it can help to come back to our intention. What did we need that made us begin this journey in the first place, and can we come back to that to find some clarity?
Know and trust your intentions for being your guide.
Being clear about our intentions is always helpful, as it focuses our mind on what’s important to us. This holds true for whether you’re choosing what to cook, planning a holiday, making a major life decision, or simply attending a - online - yoga class.
Most yoga teachers will have their own intention for a class- working on a specific joint or muscle group, developing towards a particular asana, maybe weaving a philosophical theme through the class, but that’s only important as far as it fits with your own needs. A yoga asana is just a shape that you make with your body.
What gives it real value is how we individually approach it, what we bring to it ourselves and how we react to the affect it has on us. You can perhaps think of your yoga class as being like a playground.
When you watch a group of children at play, they can take basic playground equipment and weave it into all manner of different scenarios. Simple frames, bridges, poles and swings become castles, schools, secret gardens, deserts, pirate ships and so on, all magically transformed by the games that exist in their minds.
When you stand on your yoga mat, you can bring your own intentions to transform a series of shapes into a practice that really serves you.
Do you know what you need today?
When you next step onto your mat, can you ask ‘what do I need today?’, and can you adapt your practice to support those needs. If you want to develop your practice by testing your boundaries then perhaps your focus will be on playing your edge, walking that line between safety and challenge.
If you know your body needs rest and relaxation, then perhaps you can focus on pulling back, staying within your comfort zone so that your mind can settle down and your body and begin to restore itself.
Perhaps you want to focus on the movements in your spine, or your hips, or on finding a focused meditative state. Every time we step on our mats we are different, so we can use our intention to find a practice that can nourish us as we need it to.
We might hold several intentions at any given time. One for our life in general, one for the class we’re attending, and perhaps a different intention for each asana that comes up, depending on what our focus is. We can also find that all of these intentions may alter when we meet something unexpected and our viewpoint suddenly shifts. We can always allow the space for some flexibility in what we want to achieve, and by keeping some focus on where we are and what we need, we can cut out some of the confusion and guide our choices more clearly.
Self enquiry is the most important practice of all.
Deep at the heart of yoga is always the journey to ourselves. It might not always be our conscious priority, but by exploring our intentions we are practicing the svadhyaya, or self-investigation that leads us towards self knowledge and acceptance.
It is the beautiful core of our practice that transcends any desire to balance on our hands or slide into the splits. It quietly works away within us, every time we listen to our body and breath, every time we acknowledge our thoughts and feelings, whether we realize it or not. By choosing an intention, we are tuning in and thinking about how we can align our actions with needs, working towards the unity and wholeness that is the foundation of yoga.
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