By Kay Maloney

Do you feel you are living a deliberate life, that demands your full mental presence? It has become too common in today’s ever-changing, rapid climate to live our lives in a routine that tends to put what we most desire on the backburner. In a world that is increasingly polluted with social media, comparison and a desire to prove your worth based on what you do as opposed who you are, detaches us from our true selves and beliefs. Ultimately, it is crucial to cultivate a place the enables you to breathe and be self-aware of your own existence.

When searching for a way to become more present in my life, I stumbled upon the practice of Yoga. At first, I was drawn to the physical benefits of yoga—increased flexibility, stamina, and bodily strength. However, I quickly learned the benefits of practicing Yoga extend far beyond the external, but rather are spiritual in practice. The practice of Yoga generates a rare environment that allows you to just focus on your mental state and control over your body. During my practice, these are the top spiritual benefits I have discovered and have drastically changed the way I conduct my life.

The first thing Yoga taught me was that it is okay to let go of control in life. It is impossible to control every experience life throws at you. In Yoga, there is always a position you could improve on or need months of practice to be able grasp. However, understanding that there is no perfect way to practice Yoga can manifest in life as well. Yoga is not about eradicating the negative energy out of your life, but rather is a tool that teaches you how to control your mind to deal with your environment.

Yoga has also taught me the importance of finding a quiet space at least once a week. In our daily lives, we analyze our actions and their outcomes, instead of simply just being in the present moment. Yoga allows you to connect with your inner-self without having to travel far or spend boatloads of money. It is important to remember, however, that Yoga itself will not bring peace, as that aspect lies within you developing control of your mind. Pay attention to what comes to mind when you practice, is it fear? Not being good enough? Anxiety of future endures, relationships? Whatever it may be, notice that is what comes to mind, but do not follow it. Mindful Yoga teaches you to acknowledge what you are feeling, but not to follow these thoughts.

This leads to another important skill I learned from practicing Yoga, you cannot control what thoughts come to your mind, but you can control if you follow or choose to believe them. Whatever you are doing—stretching, mastering a pose, etc— focus only on that movement. Focus on what you need to do mentally and physically to achieve what you want to accomplish. This type of thought process is not only applicable to Yoga but manifests itself in life as well. We cannot control our future experiences or their outcomes, but we can choose to live in the moment and be as present in one motion at a time.

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