What happens on your mat? Why is yoga a practice that works? What is so different than working out, tilling the garden, going for a run? What is more relaxing about yoga than watching TV or a movie, cooking in the kitchen, and hanging out with friends?

Yoga is a practice of connection. You connect to yourself. The breath is the link. You become the guide for the breath. By guiding the breath you become more connected with it, and more connected with yourself. The breath becomes a focus, a place for your mind to pause, like a rest stop along a highway.

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Awareness of the breath is the gateway for the experience of yoga you have on your mat, in your practice.

Yoga is an opportunity to have an experience with yourself. It is an intimate experience that you begin to understand how you feel, what drives you, what reactions you have, what thoughts pop up while moving and breathing. The movement and connection with the breath is the practice of seeing and appreciating yourself differently. That is not always easy, and it doesn’t mean that it is an automatic result from practicing yoga. Acknowledging, appreciating, and loving yourself within the endless loop of thoughts and emotions is the task. And that is the practice of yoga.

The yoga poses give you a place to work. They provide the canvas with which you paint. Which you see. Where you make decisions. The foundational poses- sun salutations and standing poses- give you the opportunity to practice the same shapes in your body over and over. Your body learns and adapts, becoming stronger and more flexible. Your mind is tasked with breathing into familiar shapes, experiencing the breath, and being more present here and now.

As the poses become more challenging, they give the mind something new to sit with.  The challenging poses are like a new character in a book- they can hold the attention of the mind and create a new focus for a period of time. And over time, as you practice them more and more, they build off of the foundational poses- strength, flexibility and ability to keep attention in the present.

The goal of yoga is not the achievement of poses. It’s the experience of practicing the shapes, each day, each practice, on your mat. The shapes do not change, but you do. Dealing with the Self, the changes, the growth, the success and failures of physical movement on the mat is part of learning and living. The poses are a goal for us to work towards. They provide an opportunity to have a journey. Without any goal there is no journey, no experience, no path to experience yourself and see the beauty of your truth. In that way, the poses provide the path to truth. To being in the body. To seeing yourself in different light. To feeling and knowing that light is you. That light is your untouchable , amazing, pure YOU. Your truth. See it. Appreciate it. Believe it. Live it. On and off your mat.