Purpose for Practising Yoga?

Of late I have been meditating on the intention and purpose of my yoga practice.  I have been wondering: “why do I practice yoga asana?”, “what inspires me, drives me, ignites me to move?”, “why do I back bend, side bend, forward bend, invert and twist?”, “why do I take time to be quiet or still, to be open in attention?”.  And surprise, surprise… although this collection of inquiring thoughts were dropped into the ocean of time and space with the intention of understanding myself more deeply on a physical level, the insights they have generated created waves in all aspects of self!  I love the practice of yoga!  So, here is what I have harvested from this inquiring expedition that I would like to share:

I think the purpose of my practice (or at least one of them) is to find a range to fully express myself in and with: physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, intellectually, consciously, and ecologically.  With this range I believe I can engage in living with artistry, empowerment, trust and conscious choice making.

In one of my most recent Uni classes (Human Growth and Development over the Lifespan), we touched on the topic of physical literacy.  “Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person” (http://www.phecanada.ca/programs/physical-literacy).  Now, take that sentence and in the places where the words “physically/physical” exist transplant the words “emotionally/emotional”, or “spiritually/spiritual”, or “intellectually/intellectual”, or “relationally/relational”, or “consciously/consciousness”, or “ecologically/ecological”.  For example: individuals who are emotionally literate move/engage/express themselves with competence and confidence in a wide variety of emotional activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person!!!!  Or if you like: individuals who are relationally literate move/engage/express themselves with competence and confidence in a wide variety of relational activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person!!! And so on and so forth with the rest of the words plugged into that sentence.  Can you imagine experiencing life with the intentional developing of all of these aspects of your self?  Can you imagine a world where everyone was intentionally cultivating this “whole person” range of health for themselves as well!!!

So, this is my current focus/mantra/intention in my yoga/living practice: range, full spectrum living literacy.  This is the process of deepening and becoming increasingly intimate with my infinite range of being, inspired by and experienced through all aspects of myself (most of which I likely do not even know about yet).

With this in mind, for example, I am mindfully engaging my body to produce a greater range of motion, using my yoga practice (which aside from my asana also includes jogging, walking, dancing, tripping, falling and getting back up again).  With loving partnership I am working to move into back bends, forward bends, side bends, twists and inversions to increase my physical ability; so I am more adaptable and response-able in a variety of contexts, environments and situations.

The same goes for emotions and relationships with others (and self).  There is a full spectrum of emotional colors I can learn to engage with artistically, with awareness: anger, happiness, fear, joy, sadness, bliss.  More and more, as I engage in emotional and relational experiences, I am attempting to practice mindfulness, blending open attention with reflective consideration in order to (lovingly) catch my debilitative habits, see them for what they are, and then skillfully work to grow and evolve with and from them.  Basically, I am trying to learn how to be an artist with both anger and joy alike, instead of recklessly splashing these emotional colors about in relationships, with others and myself.  I’m trying to find a way to be in partnership with emotions, instead of being a slave to them.  For me, this also means accepting the emotions I judge harshly, such as anger, fear, sadness and grief, these are the ones I’ve generally considered bad and wanted to avoid.  Instead, accepting these emotions means I can recognize them for their inherent value and worth in the rainbow of emotional experience.  Instead of shunning, disassociating from or excommunicating them, I can fold them into my repertoire and allow them to be expressed in the song that is me, in my dance with self and with others.

These thoughts, paired with meditative movement, and engagement in life, have given rise to feelings of effervescence, of newness bubbling to the surface, filling me with an awe and a deep sense of purpose.   This has inspired me to continue an open ended exploration of that which I am most intimately aware of: ME.  At the same time I am allowing myself space for play.  For me, now, this practice of living/yoga is no longer just about observation and awareness, but also about engagement and intention…feeling that living is fullest as a partnership.

Like a child on the shoreline looking across the water towards the mystery on the horizon, I am no longer simply attempting observation, but am also playfully casting stones, weighted with loving intentions, into the ocean of self.  Looking out across and into the water, abiding openly with curiosity, I am thrilled each time I perceive a creative potential taking shape, forming a rippling wave expanding and connecting in all directions.  Experiencing life in this way, with a beginners mind, I can relish and witness the beauty in form, the awe of experience, the movement of life.  Finding a way to not only see the waves, but also to ride them and fold myself into this shared medium of infinite being.

Right, the next time I’m in Auz I better find the courage to try my hands and feet at surfing:-)

Thanks for reading,


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