(Here’s a short read which I pulled off facebook – I LOVE Max Strom’s insights into the Yoga, life, and reality of modern times. Enjoy!)
By Max Strom
A common criticism of Hatha Yoga from people who do not practice it is that it is not really a spiritual practice. That it is solely a body/health regime and therefore the serious spiritual aspirant need not bother with it. But consider this viewpoint; the Yoga tradition teaches us that our bodies manifest our samskaras – (inherent tendencies) carried into this life from our previous lives, and these samskaras predetermine much of our behavior, some good – some harmful. Yet by consciously manipulating the body with breathing practices and postures; we can change the crooked course of our samskaras – like the tail wagging the dog, altering the path of our life.
Also, equally significant, is that we hold our personal past emotional experiences, energetically, in our bodies. So many of us become unexplainably stuck on our path, not from lack of effort, but by the chains of the past known as anger, grief, and fear. These buried emotions, like splinters in the heart, can be ultimately crippling to our spiritual practice because when we are in pain, we become self-centered and myopic. When we heal, we become more empathetic, self-less, and sympathetic to the pain and welfare of others.
Through the practice of Yoga, in particular the breathing practices, we can liberate these buried emotions and experience a rapid and meaningful transformation.
Our spiritual intent, fueled with breath and powered by our will, ultimately realigns an emotionally misaligned body.
Why ruin your back and knees in meditation? Why die prematurely after suffering years of chronic pain from a sedentary life and passive neglect of the body? The vehicle we travel in must be kept in order or travel on the road of internal transformation becomes difficult, then painful, then impossible. If your mind is a jet engine, but your body is a run-down 1969 Volkswagen bus, then the jet engine will be unable to make you fly. A pain-free and vital body is the foundation to support meditation, all other practices, and daily life itself.
Yes, there are Hatha Yoga practices that are simply body toning workouts disguised as a spiritual practice. But there are also wonderful and amazing and sincere teachers available. Just like looking for a good doctor, ask around, dig a little until you find the real thing.
After practicing regularly, the drugs you may have depended on to battle depression, anxiety, or sleeplessness, are often thrown in the wastebasket. No matter what you believe or disbelieve spiritually – it doesn’t matter, because Yoga works, regardless of your belief system. Try it and see for yourself.~
Note: The ideal practice for someone over 40 years old is one hour a day, 5 days a week. But do what you can with what you have with where you are. Twenty minutes a day will have an impact. ~
(formerly published by wholeliving.com)
Max Strom teaches personal transformation and yoga worldwide and is known for inspiring and impacting the lives of his students. His methods address the internal, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our life, as well as our potential for physical healing. He is the author of, There is No APP for Happiness, and A Life Worth Breathing.