Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Body Is My Temple

We're in week five of yoga school and my spiritual practice is growing. I'm consciously making an effort to follow the Yamas and Niyamas as best as I can. That said, I haven't completely changed my life 180 degrees. More like baby steps. I've been eating less meat, consuming quite a bit less alcohol, meditating a little bit, doing my best to stick to a daily morning yoga and mantra practice, and overall, feeling much more grounded, strong, and stable than ever before.

Mainly, my perspective on life has started to skew. I'm putting much less importance on material goods and societal expectations and placing more importance on making sure life is filled with more sat-cit-ananda, not only for myself, but for my loved ones. I recently found myself encouraging my husband to follow the path that is luminous for him (painting) and to put a cap on that which isn't (selling shoes)—even if it's what pays some of the bills. Something in me has moved past the fear of him jumping head first into his dream.

But back to consumption and spirituality. There is no doubt that our bodies really are our temples. If praying in a church creates peace within and gets one closer to God, than moving in my body is the equivalent. Happiness, for me, comes from feeling strong and efficient, physically. Essentially, it's freedom. And that freedom can be emotionally moving to the point of feeling humbled and connected to something bigger than, well, me. Try climbing a mountain and getting to the summit and not feeling anything at all. It's impossible. You probably feel tired from exertion. But you are also proud of completing the feat you set out to do and in awe of the view or the cliff or the trees or the sky. Whatever it is you feel, it's real and raw and is in direct correlation with the universe because you are responding to the natural world.

Fuel is what got you there, and thus, what you feed your vessel (i.e. body) with is important. Not only will a clean diet create physical efficiency, it also aids in mental clarity. While I have yet to experience any deep revelations in meditation yet, I can imagine they're more tangible with a sharp and focused mind.

If you attend a yoga class, you've probably heard your teacher say, "roll your heart open to the sky." Maybe I've been too focused on the fitness aspects of yoga, but it's finally hitting me that all of this heart opening isn't just physical instruction to move your body in a certain direction or the actual anatomy of what's happening (like your heart pumping thoroughly in Camel Pose). Our yoga instructors are reminding us to open our hearts to the world, in spiritual and energetic ways. All of those heart openers (wheel, camel, bridge, triangle, extended side angle) not only move the blood more freely through our veins, but also make us more sensitive, emotionally aware and available to the people and places and things we touch, hear, see, and feel.

I've known for a long time that it's important to take care of my body—but I always felt a level of detachment that I wasn't even aware of until now. Now I know I must also be kind to my body in the same way I am kind to my soul. Because there's no better avenue for accessing my soul and filling it with the good stuff than through my body.

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