In order to own your yoga, you need to have a good understanding of where you are in your yoga story. We will be exploring the concept of a story and how it can empower our practice in the next few blog posts. Read on and start exploring, discovering and empowering yourself!
How do stories affect us?
Stories are powerful. They help us relate to one another, creating empathy and allowing us to share experience beyond ourselves. Telling a story is not only entertaining- it can also help people spread valuable information to one another. In fact, stories may have played a valuable role in human evolution, allowing cultures to pass down information to sustain survival in challenging environments.
Stories are powerful. They help us relate to one another, creating empathy and allowing us to share experience beyond ourselves.
Have you ever thought about your own story? What about your yoga story?
Consider the following questions:
- What is your yoga story? How did it begin and where are you now?
- What story peaked your interest in yoga? If you can’t think of a direct story here, maybe think of the message you first recall about yoga.
- How does your story affect how you see yourself?
- How does your story affect others, including your environment?
If these questions speak to you, write them down with their answers or talk about them with a friend. Doing so will help clarify your story to yourself and others. It will help you find a confident voice to take action in the future- the first step to making a positive difference for yourself and others.
If you are curious, check out my story below. Or scroll down to the bottom of the post to skip!
My Yoga Story
Since I was about 13, I was into distance running and soccer. I became more focused on running as grew into my teenage years- this was primarily due to actually liking it, but also because, like many girls of similar age, I had an strong interest to look a certain way. I wanted to obtain society’s standards of beauty, so I focused on taking actions that promoted it: vigorous, calorie burning exercise and a concern with my food intake. Like many girls and women, I wanted to achieve the unachievable ideal of perfection, an unattainable goal that creates unnecessary stress. I had heard of yoga, but always rejected doing it because it didn’t seem valuable to my end goal: it is too slow moving, I’ll be bored, it doesn’t give you a good workout out, I want more of a high impact. I finally decided to try yoga out, but only by dipping my toe into a Power Yoga DVD with Rodney Yee. So I tried it. And I liked it! Or perhaps I liked the idea that people who practiced yoga seemed to be “deeper”- more connected, aware, maybe even a bit smug. Either way I practiced with it a few times a week. This DVD led me to volunteer at the front desk of a local studio, receiving unlimited free classes as payment. This experience opened my eyes to multiple yoga styles, as well as incredible mental and physical benefits.
I liked yoga, but I didn’t practice it regularly. I moved on to attend graduate school, where I only practiced yoga when I could (looking back, this is when I should have been practicing it the most). And that was my relationship with yoga for awhile- do it when you can, but that’s all. Yoga really is the most beneficial when you are able to practice it regularly, and I did not experience these benefits until my teacher training in 2015. My training and teaching has allowed me to expand my practice and really take yoga everywhere with me, which was great while I was traveling. With regular practice, I really noticed the benefits of yoga- I was calmer, more mindful, physically stronger and a lot better at handling my emotions. I also started meditating, something I had always been curious about but had never done regularly.
My yoga practice makes my life better. It makes me treat others well, my environment mindfully, and myself with the respect I deserve. And the funny thing is, I know this is just the beginning. With yoga as a tool, I am looking forward to changes and growth in the future.
Are stories always good?
Not necessarily! Stories often bias how we perceive our world. This bias, when it goes unchecked, can turn into something dangerous.Particularly dangerous is the concept of a single story, a story that everyone seems to know, despite the fact that it offers a very limited (and unrealistic) perspective. An example of this may be a negative stereotype about a person or group of peopleThey can also be dangerous to your own wellbeing- if you maintain a story that says you are a loser everyday, you won’t feel empowered to act differently. It is vital to remember that stories do not necessarily equate to reality, and we must work to maintain the concept of a larger, interconnected picture when telling them.
Stories help us connect to one another. It is up to us to make sure this connection can be varied out to the broader community and environment.
To explore what stories are and how they affect you and your world, check out these great TED talks: