Hope Knosher outlines the basic sequence of a well-rounded yoga session. Use this as a standard to start your home practice!Read more
During a recent yoga and hiking trip, I sat beside a creek and watched the water amble along. There were places where the water was frantically hurrying by, and others where the surface was quiet and soft, with no notable activity. It is said that a body of water that is soft and still on the top runs deep and strong underneath, and one that is loud and quickly moving on the top is shallow and lacks depth.
When I started a yoga practice I was the latter. My mind rambled endlessly as I busied myself with anything that would keep me from connecting further than a surface level. As I dove into my practice, I began to build physical and mental strength, slow down my mind, and move into the deepest levels of myself, unpacking layers of holding along the way.
As I came to yoga I had little core strength, either inside or out. My whole being, body, mind, and soul had been beat down by many life challenges and how I was dealing with these challenges.
We tend to link being strong with the strength of our muscles, ligaments and tendons -- our physical bodies. Having deep core strength in particular is important in yoga, but this is only part of the story. We are connected in body, mind, and soul, and when we gain physical strength we also gain spiritual and mental strength. This is what I found when I began my journey with yoga.
It’s true that core strength aids us in many yoga poses. But when our strong runs deep we gain more than a better yoga pose or a longer run. As we deepen our physical core strength we begin to deepen and enhance the spiritual and emotional side of who we are. Yoga gives us the power and fortitude to act on what our deepest selves aspire to become, to do, and to accomplish.
After all, yoga is all about finding and strengthening that deep core and bringing an awareness that we can then take off the mat and into our lives, living from our core off the mat.
We all come to yoga at different places in our lives and our bodies. We all come for different reasons, but we all share similar benefits when we keep coming. Whether we come to strengthen our bodies in a particular area, or to loosen them up from other strength training such as running, weight lifting, or cycling -- something bigger starts to happen and as we begin to move inward, we realize there is more. We become stronger, and we begin to take that deepened strength into our lives moment by moment and become more of who we truly are.
I have transformed in many ways since that first yoga class. My strength has increased, as well as my resolve to live from my core. A core that is stronger - both physically and mentally - than it has ever been in my life. I will never forget one day during my practice as I was standing in forward fold my body said, “fly back”.
Although I had attempted this many times before, I had let go of the need in my mind to fly back to plank. Once I accepted where I was, I let go into the process and just kept showing up.
It was an amazing light bulb moment for me. I hesitated briefly as my mind wanted to argue, “You can’t do that!” But I pushed it aside, and I jumped back. It wasn’t the most graceful version, but it was an absolute boost toward my knowing that my strong is running deep.
If you practice yoga long enough, you will have these moments of strength both on the mat and off. With each practice, your strong will get deeper as you begin to open to and believe in the vastness of who you are at your deepest level. And eventually, you will find the deep core and strength that will sustain your body—and your mind.