The highest spiritual practice is self-awareness without judgment. However, the absence of judgment can only exist with full and complete acceptance. Acceptance should therefore be reinforced as one of the key concepts of Yoga.
From the moment we step onto the mat, we are given an opportunity to rediscover our body, and to recreate our own relationship with it. We become aware of the body’s strengths and weaknesses, its limitations and changes, which may have also come due to age, injury, or illness. And as we listen to the breath and work on the alignments of the body in Yoga poses (Asanas), we begin to notice our thinking patterns, judgments, criticism, and the thoughts that arise during our practice. Consequently, the body, the breath, and the observations of our physical self as such become a doorway to self-discovery and self-awareness. They help us to get deeper and deeper into ourselves and to notice the movements of the mind, our past conditioning, and to learn who we really are. When we practice with acceptance, we build strength to break through our old patterns, to learn to quiet our mind, to sink into the very moment, to fully live, cherish, and appreciate it. We cultivate the study of the self and get glimpses of what it means to be, to feel, and to stay connected. We learn to accept ourselves as we are and to see our body as a vessel through which we navigate our spiritual path.
Yoga helps not only in the cultivation of self-awareness, but also in the development of our inner skills, strength, and creative intelligence that in turn help us access our innate mental, physical, and spiritual healing capacities and our intuition. Yoga practice strengthens the feelings of joy, peace, and connectedness. It teaches self-respect, self- responsibility, and keeps on inviting us back to ourselves. We learn how to remain gentle toward ourselves, to soften our hearts, and to surrender completely. Surrendering means working with what we have, setting intentions and working toward them but without attachment to the outcome, understanding the phenomena of change and impermanence of all things.
With willful practice, self-awareness, and total surrender, for which self-acceptance is the necessary basis, the outcome can be experienced: a state of openness, receptivity, confidence, humility, gratitude, and inner peace – YOGA.
Hatha Yoga combines physical exercises (Asanas), breath control (Pranayama), relaxation (Savasana), concentration, mindfulness, and meditation in order to harmonise the body and the mind. Though Asanas teach balance, flexibility, and strength, they also bring mental benefits. Regular Yoga practice leads to calming of the mind, inner harmony, increased subjective well-being, and increased concentration.
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