This question was posed to me by one of my inquisitive, eager yoga students. I responded that I have been doing yoga for so long that I didn’t know if it was life changing for everyone, but it could be. I explained that mastering one’s breath was the essence of handling situations, emotions, exercise and even body functions, so yes, in many ways, yoga practice and breathing could be life changing.
Today I awoke from a deep dream state to the disturbing sound of my alarm. Disrupting my sleep and fascinating dream about friends from afar prompted me to roll over in a fetal ball in an effort to dispel the agitation and go back to sleep. I knew I had to rouse myself, did a few stretches and got up ready to leave for what I hoped would be a good beach workout, followed by a swim in calm waters.
The beach was already active with teams of tourists, some working out, taking pictures and some staking their claims on beach territory. The ocean still showed signs of a strong current and rolling shore waves, so I knew it was not going to be my anticipated swim in calm waters. None-the-less, after pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups, I jumped into the water and tried to stroke my way into relaxation. But instead, I talked myself into a sprint workout to capitalize on my short time frame. Strongly stroking for 30 seconds, followed by 90-second recoveries, I got in a tough, efficient swim and headed home with intense energy to change and travel to my Senior Center “Stretch & Strong” classes.
While getting ready, I was bombarded by a mélange of texts from friends and clients, putting me in a tiff. On the road, a 45-minute trip from my home, I realized that I was getting detoured with road rage and not being myself. I recognized that I had NOT done my traditional Tantra yoga cobra breath meditation and therefore, was not “right” with the world.
Thanks to one of Fort Lauderdale’s LONG traffic lights, I squeezed in a full 7 breath Tantra Cobra Breath Meditation and immediately felt more, calm, centered and happy. Rather than be derailed with minor irritations, I chose to let them all go and embrace the rest of the day ahead with peace and acceptance. Even the traffic seemed to move more smoothly and my classes were fun and relaxed, as I felt connected to each person.
So is yoga life-changing? If it changed my day and that is one step in my life, then yes, yoga IS life changing! It brings a new outlook and hence a new life—an improvement on the pre-yoga life. While it strengthens the body, it also focuses the mind and makes the breath the oil in the human machine, helping breath flow into movement and mindfulness. Being a yogi is one of my greatest joys and an integral part of my life, perhaps it is life transforming!