This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to take a master class with power yoga teacher Bryan Kest. (The class was at Qi Downtown, which, by the way, is AWESOME. I will definitely be going back there.)
I didn't take notes during the yoga class, so what I'm about to share is merely paraphrased from what Bryan Kest said, or, rather, what I think I heard. I'll do my best to convey his message as accurately as I can.
Bryan started the class with a lecture, and I thought what he shared was very valuable. His main point was that yoga should be more about the mental than the physical (he told us this before working us hard with a challenging physical practice, but I think his point is still valid). The vast majority of diseases are caused by mental stress (the negative, not-helpful stuff we think about throughout much of our day, every day), so our mental health has far greater impact on our physical health than our exercise regimen does. If we practice yoga only for the physical aspects, we are missing a huge benefit of the practice.
He also talked about what a waste it is if we just bring all the crap from our off-the-mat lives in with us to the yoga room and then change nothing while we're practicing yoga. For instance, if we're competitive in our daily lives, and we bring that competitiveness onto the mat, what's the point of all the yoga? Where's the transformation? How can transformation occur if we're just doing the same old things on the yoga mat that we do everywhere else?
I talk a lot in my classes about how we can cultivate new behaviors and thoughts during yoga practice and then begin to take those behaviors and thoughts with us into the rest of our lives. Bryan talked about how pointless it is to do the yoga practice if we're not willing to change anything about ourselves, and I agree, especially when you consider how important mental health is to physical health.
Bryan also talked about how what you feed will become stronger. For instance, if you don't feed your angry thoughts, then any anger in your life will weaken. Conversely, if you feed thoughts of insecurity, then your insecurity will grow stronger. Whatever you feed will grow stronger.
So this week I'm asking the folks in my yoga classes to bring awareness to all the stuff they don't want in their lives (feelings of lack, anger, jealousy, fear, insecurity, judgment, whatever it may be), and then to make an effort to stop feeding it. Your thoughts have an enormous impact on your health and happiness. Choose how you think. Choose what you think. Change your story.
What you feed will grow stronger. What do you want in your life? Feed THAT. Feed nonjudgment of yourself and others. Feed gratitude. Feed forgiveness. Feed feelings of abundance. Feed optimism. Feed love. Feed generosity. Feed kindness.