Lost Secrets of Yoga #2: Yoga is Not About Getting What You Want.
Bummer of a secret, right?
I know, but before you chuck your practice out the window in favor of something that will get you what you want, let me explain. While your yoga practice is not about getting you what you want in the conventional sense, it is about getting you what you want in the ultimate sense. It's about getting what we all want--to be happy, fulfilled, and empowered in life. But the way yoga goes about this is a bit unconventional. Here's the thinking: no matter what you think you want, what you really want is to be happy. And that's true whether you're chasing after a new car, a better body, or a pod of saved whales. The only reason you'd want any of these things is because somewhere deep down you believed that they would make you happy.
So there it is: happiness is what we really want. And it's in finding this happiness, regularly and consistently, that all of us can use a little help.
To be clear, the help isn't needed when we're getting what we want, for let's face it, in those moments, everything is puppies and butterflies. We're already happy.
It's in those moments when life throws us one of those inevitable curve balls--when the job goes away, the spouse walks out, or the disease prognosis is less than hopeful--it's then that all of us could use a boost to remain if not happy, at least relatively more peaceful and at ease.
And this is where your yoga practice can pay off in spades. At the risk of oversimplifying things, in these moments, instead of helping you to get what you want, your yoga practice is designed to help you want what you get. And this is one of the most powerful gifts that anyone can offer us.
Can you imagine how much more fulfilling life would be if...
When you didn't get the promotion at work despite how hard you worked, you were still fulfilled;
When your partner didn't appreciate you despite all of the work you put in around the house, you still felt satisfied;
When your car got broken into despite your effort to park it in a safe place, you still felt in harmony with things?
This one little gift could radically transform your entire life.
And it's also why your yoga practice can make such a difference in everything from your career to your relationships and of course your health. While many don't realize it, much of our work in the postures of yoga is about making peace with things as they are. Moment after moment in our practice different things arise: intensity, challenge, discomfort, boredom, impatience, achievement. Each and every one is an opportunity to begin to forge a habit of remaining ever more calm and relaxed no matter what is happening.
To put it another way, when we are practicing yoga rightly, we are actually reprogramming our nervous systems to relate to the world in a new and more peaceful and productive way.
Now don't panic, this is in no way to suggest that we should stop chasing our dreams and doing whatever we can to live our very best lives, but wouldn't it be nice to to live even 10, 20 or even 30% happier, even when life serves us up lemons?
I can say for me personally, it is just this that has been among the greatest gifts of my life which is why I am so anxious to share it with whoever I can.
Eric Walrabenstein is a nationally-recognized speaker, teacher, and best-selling author of Waging Inner Peace. As one of the most sought-after authorities on the application of yogic technology for self healing and empowerment in the nation, Eric is the founder of one of Arizona’s largest yoga centers, and Arizona's first 500-hour Master-Level Yoga Teacher Training Program. At the core of all his work is the effort to make yoga's ancient wisdom and techniques practical and relevant for people from all walks of life. In addition to his work in his wellness center in Phoenix, Arizona, he is the creator of BOOTSTRAP, a yoga-based program to help troops and veterans heal from post traumatic stress, is an ordained Yogacharya (preceptor of yoga), and is currently finishing a book on the Science of Happiness.