Editor’s Note: Andrew Weil, M.D. is a world-renowned leader, best-selling author, and...
When people hear the word yoga, they usually think of the physical postures or asanas, which offer so many profound benefits for our body’s flexibility, strength, and balance. Even if yoga only enhanced physical fitness, the time spent in practice would be fully justified, yet yoga offers much more than just a way to exercise the body; it also helps us experience emotional well-being and connect to our essential self.
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old wisdom tradition that helps us move from constriction to expansion, from fear to love, and from separation to unity. At its core, yoga means union – the union of body, mind, and soul; the union of the ego and the spirit; the union of the mundane and the divine.
The intention of consciousness-based yoga practices such as the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga is to integrate and balance all the layers of our life so that our body, mind, heart, intellect, and spirit flow in harmony. As we expand our awareness through the practice of yoga, we become more capable of perceiving the richness that life offers.
Over time, yoga becomes something we live, not just something we “practice.” The inevitable pressures of life have less of an impact on us as we respond in a more conscious manner. As we become balanced and harmonious, our interactions with people and situations become more deliberate, calm, and relaxed. We bring union and harmony to every encounter, whether it’s a random meeting on the street, a talk with our child, or a family reunion. When our inner world begins to change, our outer world shifts to reflect our new perspective.
Any reason for practicing yoga is a good reason. Enhancing mind-body balance and releasing stress are as noble a purpose for performing yoga as the awakening of spirituality. This is the great gift of yoga it serves and nourishes us at every level of our being and spontaneously contributes to greater wellbeing in all domains of life. Yoga will help you discover gifts within yourself that have remained unopened since your childhood – the gifts of peace, harmony, laughter, and love.