Spiritual Muscles? I just want to develop my real muscles…

No doubt about it…Yoga helps us develop our physical self.  Stiff muscles and joints have a lower limit of strength than flexible muscles.  On the other hand, naturally flexible bodies can sometimes lack strength.  Often the usual Western vision of yoga places emphasis on increasing flexibility and strength.  However, after practising for a while we start to realise that not only our physical self but also our inner selves seem to be changing.  Rachel Shaeffer (Yoga for your Spiritual Muscles, 1998) says,

“As I was able to accept my body’s limitations in a yoga posture, I was better able to accept whatever life presented to me.  As I learned to breathe through challenging postures, I felt more at ease breathing through difficult decisions.  When I practiced compassion with myself on days I struggled with yoga, I became a more compassionate friend to others.  Whatever was happening on the yoga mat was happening off the mat”

Our theme for this term places equal emphasis on a group of physical and personal qualities. As requested, this term each week we will work on core strength and a bit more on upper body strength.  I’ll be placing even greater emphasis on stress reduction.   And along the way we might start to build strength and flexibility in our inner qualities as well as our outer bodies.  Over the next ten weeks, we will use the following concepts as a springboard for our practice:

1. Awareness & Acceptance

2. Focus

3. Flexibility

4. Balance

5. Energy and Confidence (lots of Core)

6. Strength

7. Softness and Compassion

8. Joy and Playfulness

9. Gratitude

10. Peacefulness

Buddhist philosopher Jack Kornfield says:

More than anything else, the way we experience life is created by the particular states of mind with which we meet it.  As always, we will practise with Ahimsa, non-harming, as our over-arching intention.