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Aster's avatar

What has practicing yoga done for your spiritual life?

Asked by Aster (18381points) July 19th, 2014

I know what it does physically. But what has it done for your spiritual life (if anything) and how long did it take?

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13 Answers

hearkat's avatar

For me, I started yoga for the physical benefits, but I found the mental benefits akin to what @thorninmud explains on your meditation question. Yoga is undertaken as a practice, it is something that you do to focus your body and mind onto the goal of the best pose you can do in that moment. You are not thinking about the previous pose, or the next pose. You are not thinking about the last time you worked on this pose, or the next time you will do it. You are focused on getting to the pose as best you can and breathing through it.

I find yoga a more effective form of meditation than the traditional sitting in silence that most people think of when they contemplate meditation. When I just focus on the breath, I tend to fall asleep. By focusing on the pose and the breath, I remain awake and I am totally in that moment the way mediation is supposed to be. With my history of body issues from being molested as a child and now with a degenerative medical condition, connecting with my body and learning to appreciate what it can do and accept what it can’t have also been beneficial to my overall well-being.

dabbler's avatar

Keep in mind that the physical practice of asanas and pranayama, hatha yoga, are a portion of classical yoga vedanta philosophical system.

The hatha yoga work prepares the body to be calm and energized at the same time to accommodate sitting meditation and to encourage a focused awareness in all of life.
All of yoga is a path to self-awareness, pursuit of the direct experience of one’s existence.

By all accounts that experience, and the approach to it, lead to bliss.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I keep away from yoga as it is not a healthy way to exercise.

Adagio's avatar

@Dan_Lyons That is a strong comment to make without further explanation…

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@Adagio Yoga exercises are unnatural and hard on the body.

filmfann's avatar

Yoga helped me calm my mind, and focus.

dabbler's avatar

If your yoga practice is hard on your body you are doing it incorrectly.
An essential part of genuine yoga practice is a self-awareness and honesty about one’s own limits and no more ambition than needed to do the best you can in the moment. That should not include injury.

@Dan_Lyons Could you elaborate on what you mean that yoga exercises are unnatural?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Sure. Many of the exercises have positions and postures that human beings do not ordinarily assume.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure it is fine for some. I have a friend who was born to a family of Kundalini Yoga practitioners and he now travels the world giving lessons to extremely wealthy people who pay large sums of money to practice this particular form of yoga.
He’s the one who told me to be careful doing yoga as many of its postures are unnatural.

dabbler's avatar

Driving a car, playing the piano, and making margaritas are also examples of things humans don’t ‘naturally’ do but that they can train themselves to do them safely. If that’s the sort of thing he means by unnatural then I’ll agree with him.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@dabbler That has nothing to do with the yoga dangers. Your example is rather, well, stupid. And besides, making a margarita is actually something that does come naturally to most humans.

dabbler's avatar

Dan you are misinformed. If your yoga practice is hard on your body you are doing it incorrectly.
In terms of being able to practice hatha yoga without hazard, it is exactly like driving a car and several other things that people teach themselves how to do safely. Zip-line, handling firearms, eating mushrooms, rock-climbing, these are all things that can be dangerous but don’t result in injury if done properly.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I know many people who have been seriously injured in zipline accidents. How many people are shot and killed in firearm accidents? Even done properly they still hurt themselves. Once again, terrible examples @dabbler

dabbler's avatar

Thanks for your opinion @Dan_Lyons about the examples, but you continue to miss the point: If your yoga practice is hard on your body you are doing it incorrectly.
People try to make yoga competitive and push too far and they have missed the point and are not doing their hatha yoga properly. Proper hatha yoga practice is actively aware of the body and its limits and stops well before injury. You cannot get hurt doing hatha yoga properly. ‘Teachers’ who push people past their limits are not teaching yoga. People who push themselves past their limits are not doing yoga. They are engaging in a stupid and dangerous ego contest with themselves.

If your point is that it’s possible to hurt yourself trying to do yoga then as you note it’s possible to hurt yourself doing all sorts of things if you do them incorrectly. So what?
Don’t blame the yoga if you insist on doing it incorrectly.

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