By Lynda Neil CYA-RYT200
I believe the true essence of yoga is to benefit all and to do this we need to keep an open mind and open heart. This openness extends further than just on our mat — it extends to our family, our work and our community.
The next question is: how do we do this? We already know the mind-body connection that yoga facilitates, so start right there. Think about what we do and say. It seems simple enough but, like everything in life, we can easily “get caught up” in the moment and forget how our actions and words affect those around us. Bringing a sense of calm into all we do and say will help set an example for others and, by this tiny action, we can spread this outward.
Practice the “pause”. Pause before reacting, before responding, before making that decision. Take another breath before continuing the conversation.
Listen carefully to what others are saying. Listen to hear the words, their meaning and the feelings/emotions of those words. By listening in this fashion, we refrain from thinking ahead getting our response ready and thereby missing much of the underlying content and context of what is being said.
We do not have to make grand plans and gestures and actions to influence the world we live in. It is like a pebble thrown into the still pond — the ripples it makes extend further and further out until they reach all shores.
In keeping with the open heart and open mind mantra I try to live by, I will share with you a few of the things I have challenged myself with over the past few years.
Each week when I go grocery shopping I add items that equal approximately 10 % of my total grocery bill and drop them into the local food bank box at the grocery store. This is a simple gesture that adds to the wellbeing of my community but takes absolutely no added effort or time on my part. Sometimes the items are nutritious breakfast foods, feminine hygiene products, baby diapers and food or toothpaste and toothbrushes — you get the idea. As I have shared this weekly food bank story with family and friends, I am astonished to hear that others have taken this on as well.
Another “give back” that I participate in is teaching a weekly yoga session at a local community health centre. This is a volunteer position that allows me to connect with and teach those that are unable financially to pay for yoga/gym memberships etc. When we look at the “perfect” yoga body that the media portrays, these students do not fit and they would not venture to a class on their own. By being open and available to guide them weekly, they begin to accept their bodies and improve their health and wellness.
I am sure each one of you reading this can think of at least one way you can help others in your community. We are each on our own personal journey and always need to be respectful of this individuality. Let us open ourselves to possibilities — possibilities within each of us, our families, our friends and our communities.
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