In our western society, yoga is usually presented mainly as a physical practice that brings better flexibility, circulation and physical strength. However, yoga is far more than that. Regular practice of yoga calms our nervous system and therefore significantly influences our psychical strength and emotional balance. And what exactly is emotional balance?
As she wrote in her book Yoga for Emotional Balance, acknowledged yogic therapist and psychologist Dr. Bo Forbes says: “The real emotional balance doesn’t only consist of pleasant emotions. It’s about our relationship towards our emotions and the relics that these emotions leave behind. When we are emotionally balanced, we experience strong emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and shame and we react to them. Maybe, for a while, we even surrender to them. However, we remain resilient and we don’t allow ourselves to drown in our emotions or let them bind us. After we experience a strong emotional response, we are able to calm our reaction and restore our balance.”
Sometimes, something similar happens while we practice yoga. When we move into a pose (and we try to activate all the body parts pointed out by our teacher), a lot is happening in our body. We may experience exertion, feelings of anger and frustration, thinking Why aren’t we there yet?; we may even start to wonder Why are we even doing this? or we wait impatiently for the teacher to bring us out from the pose. However, when we leave the posture and relax our muscles again (or even better, during our savasana, the final relaxation pose), our body inhabits deep inner peace, sometimes even blissfulness, feelings of being alive and silent at same time.
There’s nothing wrong with being motivated to practice yoga just to feel a few moments of peace and silence during the final relaxation. Eventually, if we remain persistent, this peace will expand to all hours of our practice, and even beyond our yoga mat, into every moment of our everyday life.
That’s why it’s worth giving yoga a chance and enduring all the practice. Day by day, every day, yoga slowly and silently sneaks into our lives as pleasant inner peace, a piece of a jigsaw that once found feels like it’s the piece that has always been missing.