“Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of existence. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better.” – Donna Farhi
Self Love is Key
We often look at yoga and exercising as a way to destress and decompress inward while making our outer appearance smokin’ hot. I mean, who doesn’t have the confidence of Beyonce after four or more classes in a week? On the surface, our fitness routine, be it yoga or running, is meant to benefit ourselves. However, when we dig a bit deeper it is clear to see that the effects of yoga spread outward and touch the people in our lives and community.
You may say, “How can this be?! I’m taking the time for myself,” which is absolutely fair. You deserve this hour of inward focus for yourself. You deserve all the adjustments in the world and that sweet, sweet savasana. So many of us give too much of ourselves and yoga is an incredible way to give back to yourself. This awareness of being and feeling of self-love is the first step to being able to give to others.
Sharing Your Light
Did you notice when you first started practicing yoga how you raved about your studio and how great you felt from that 6am class? I often offer my one free guest pass to random acquaintances and colleagues because I know, “they will be hooked!”
When we feel this self-fulfillment, we have an ability to create space for others to feel. I notice the more I go to class, the more I want to share the gift of yoga with the world. Now, that may mean offering stretches to my colleagues when they complain about lower back pain from sitting at their desk all day. Or, it may mean that I offer positive energy and light to the people around me when they need it most. Whatever it may be, we are shining a light through our own practice that is reverberating off of others. It’s magical.
In today’s world, we are surrounded by media and noise spreading all the negativity. It gets difficult to find the good when the bad is smeared all over the place screaming for our attention. However, with tools such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, we are able to make a difference not only in our lives but in others too.
So, why give back to others through your own practice? I like to call that after practice feeling my “Yo-Glo.” I’m sure you get it too, you’re practically skipping out of the studio with your belongings crumpled in hand. People walking by look at you like you’re crazy, but you’ve got a grin on your face that you’re offering to anyone in need. You have a great phone conversation with a friend, and text your parents to tell them you love and miss them. You are radiating happiness and kindness. That’s your Yo-Glo, get it girl.
Viva The Vagus Nerve
Still not convinced at your power of kindness? When we look at the act of kindness and how it affects your well-being, studies are now tracing that feel-good feeling that’s received on both ends to the vagus nerve, which has the widest motor and sensory distribution in the body. A study led at the University of North Carolina, showed participants that were assigned to a weekly meditation class practicing “loving-kindness” meditation (compassionate thoughts about self and others) had greater vagus tone than those that did not enroll in the class. The greater the vagus tone, the lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. So, by being compassionate we are literally helping each other stay healthy.
In the season of seva (sanskrit for selfless service), remember to take care of Number One. Remember that all of your power lies within and you have the ability to give back, even by offering yourself and all of your kindness into the world. We may not all have time to volunteer, but we do have time to spread light in your community. You never know how much a smile means to someone until you share it.