While you’re wrapping presents to put underneath the tree, think about some of the gifts that yoga has been unwrapping for you over the past months and years. Okay, maybe these gifts weren’t on your Santa list, but you’ve earned them, and they are—like the credit card company tells us—priceless. Here are a few, for starters:
1. Commitment. Dedicated practice requires commitment, and this is what teaches us the difference between passing fancy and lasting passion. With so much media attention on yoga’s flashy side—sexy clothing, mat-toting celebrities, awesome selfies—it’s good to remember why yoga gets lasting love. A daily yoga practice sustains and anchors you through all of life’s crazy fluctuations. (Yes, even through holiday stress!)
2. Openness. We can easily feel how asana opens the body, stretching muscles, making room for organs, relieving joint compression. But yoga doesn’t just open us up physically. Think about the times you’ve felt as though your heart was blossoming during a backbend, and how you felt big enough or soft enough or brave enough to stretch beyond personal limitations. You aren’t just moving your body; you are embodying the deeper aspects of each pose. You’re a Warrior stepping onto the battleground of life.
3. Awareness. “The gift that keeps on giving” could become a meme for the way yoga expands and deepens personal awareness. Yoga’s eight limbs help us unwrap layer after layer, revealing an awareness so refined that you may find yourself moving your pinky finger one more millimeter in Headstand in order to unlock pranic energy flow. Or you might be noticing how quickly you can identify and unhook from negative thought patterns (a handy gift to bring with you to the family holiday celebration).
4. Intuition. Many people scoff at the idea of being psychic or having ESP. Perhaps “sixth sense” is simply an awareness so refined, so uncluttered, that understanding becomes holistic, less bound by time, place, and personality. If, like me, you need to satisfy your inner scientist, you can attribute this to third-eye meditation or pineal gland awakenings during Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand). Or you can simply enjoy how your yoga practice has opened a door for revelatory knowledge—life’s “aha!” moments.
This gift list goes on and on: Adaptability. Balance. Peace. Compassion for others. Dispassion or vairagya— the ability to feel deeply without wallowing in emotion. Yoga’s gifts are interconnected, flowing from one to another, unfolding like the thousand-petaled lotus that symbolizes higher awareness. In the language of myth, “a thousand” represents the infinite. When you think about it, doesn’t that equal yoga’s potential? And yours?
What are some of your favorite yogic gifts?