By Guest Blogger John Budd with Yoga Dogz

Have you ever wondered why a hatha yoga practice makes you feel different than other forms of exercise, such as aerobics, running, lifting, or even gym yoga?  There is a difference, and when you pay attention to the subtleties, you may notice small changes not only in yourself, but in the world around you.   Perhaps the intention behind the way you approach your yoga practice is affecting more than just your waistline.  What’s going on in the mind, and how is this happening?  Why is hatha yoga growing faster than other forms of exercise? People from all walks of life to include professional athletes, doctors, disabled persons, rich, poor, young, old, military, various cultures, and religious beliefs, housewives, and students are practicing to improve their lives.  Hatha Yoga is a mindfulness practice, and there are five basic steps that develop through a steady practice.

1. Faith – Do you believe in God?  Do you believe in yourself?  If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you believe in God?  Yoga is spiritual because at your core that is what you are.  When the mind stops racing, what you have is a realization of spirit, a realization of God.

2. Self Control – Discipline, morality, practice, right living (yamas), cleanliness/purity (niyamas), breath control (pranayama), control of your senses (pratyahara), devotion or meditation on God(dhyana), Union with God (samadhi).  When you can ride the ups and downs of life without losing your peace, that is Self Control.

3. Willpower – Determination.  If you give up and quit, or have no practice, you have no faith in yourself.  Where there is no risk, there is no gain.  Are you controled by your fear (mind stuff or illusion), or do you act out of love (spirit or reality).

4. Concentration – Focus, balance.  Ever noticed when the mind is racing you can’t achieve whatever task is at hand?  What is my breathing like when I concentrate?

5. Patience – Do we have what it takes to keep trying, or do we feel less human because of what we can’t achieve? The beauty of a yoga practice is in the process of a day to day practice, always learning, listening.  God will not let you remain stagnant.  She has work for you do and it starts with patience, and loving yourself.

All five steps have to be learned through education and practice.  When all five steps are used together, you can control your mind, and not the other way around.  The mind is sensitive, and is everything in the world we live in.  The mind can make your life heaven or hell.  That is why there must be a union between Mind/Body/Spirit.  If you look around, life is full of ups and downs at various levels.  That is why the mind has to be strong, so it can ride the tides without being shaken.  Look at nature, the ocean, the sky, the seasons, and see that it is ever changing.

Why worry when life takes a turn we don’t like?  The mind has the ability to go crazy with emotions and fear, which can trigger stress, which leads to disease.  That is why the mind has to be strong, disciplined and united.  Over the course of a lifespan, the mind should become strong and united, not disheveled through worry.  Mind/Body/Spirit work together, and the condition of one affects the health of the other.  So why worry?  Don’t ask the mind that question, ask yourself.   In Matthew 6, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Yoga Dogz logo work-03Find a studio and teachers who challenge you mentally, physically and spiritually.  Is your yoga teacher committed to self growth and do they have a personal practice?  If they don’t, why would you ever want to learn from them.  Does the leadership and administration where you take yoga classes actually practice and understand why Hatha Yoga is different than Les Mills or Pure Barre?  The blind cannot lead the blind.  Mindfulness and awareness work together and you should question everything.  When you are mindless you bury your head in the sand and accept everything without question. Hatha yoga will challenge you, and if you stick with it, you will get the results of you want both on and off the mat.   And remember, throughout the course of your practice, be mindful of: faith, self control, willpower, concentration, and patience.

Yoga Dogz is located at 122B Reynolda Village, Winston-Salem, NC 27106. For schedules and prices, click HERE.

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