What is Yoga? Freedom.
In the beginning, I saw my first yoga practice, ashtanga yoga, as nothing more than a physical exercise that was good for my body. Yet almost immediately the practice of yoga brought a gentle euphoria along with it. As my body strengthened, opened, and became calm, I found that a cold winter wind would no longer cause my shoulders to tense, that my body was not stiff in the morning, or that just breathing felt surprisingly delightful. In short, little everyday pains and stresses disappeared while I discovered ever more simple pleasures.
Through my years of practicing yoga this awareness has only grown. My body has become ever more sensitive to what makes it feel good and what does not. This in turn clarifies my decisions to let go of what causes misery and stress in my life, and to build upon what brings me joy and contentment. For me, this is yoga: Reducing suffering and increasing happiness.
My experience tells me that yoga goes beyond mere physical exercise because it can transform the body and mind to free us from the physical and mental challenges which cause pain, stress, and hold us back from a fuller life.
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