Spread the love during the National Yoga Month celebration of the practice of yoga and its healing properties during the month of September. And wow, do we ever need it! The challenges in our lives and communities may seem never-ending and overwhelming right now. What better time to delve deeper into your current practice or begin one of you haven’t taken the plunge? But honestly, if you follow my blog, you may already be asking what National Yoga Month and the visual arts have in common? My answer: both inspire, connect and speak to our minds, bodies and souls. Yoga and Visual Art are both a huge part of my RAD Fresh Creative Journey and RAD Fresh Yoga Journey. National Yoga Month is just another opportunity to share inspiration with all of you. My yoga story is probably a lot like yours and not at all unusual, but its connection to the visual arts is one I think you will connect with too.
Most of us begin the journey of a yoga practice somewhat by accident. There is a class at your gym —may as well try it. A friend suggested you try it with her —so you go. Your doctor suggested it for your back issues—sure, why not. It looked like fun. A family member said you needed to learn to relax. And so on and so on. However the magic of discovering yoga does not lie only in beginning or enjoying the physical practice (although that is awesome as well).
Just like in the book by Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic “creativity lies in the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.” I believe that place in the heart, the place where the mind and the soul come together to form a bond that leads us to a personal place of grace is where I grow most in yoga. It will take more than one call, one studio or one teacher to hook you. But if you keep practicing, you can find your magic too!
Spread the Love
I have been practicing yoga for well over 23 years now. The first few years were mostly about the physical benefits. I was lucky that my gym, The Women’s Club in Missoula, Montana offered yoga classes as part of their membership. The teachers were awesome, offering multiple levels of classes from Gentle Yoga to Advanced classes. During my first year of practicing, I began to realize that I wanted to know more about the entire practice of yoga —mind, body and soul.
After my mom and I attended a yoga retreat with my favorite teacher from the club, I was inspired to grow my practice as I began to feel more deeply connected to myself. It was the beginning of my understanding that the practice of yoga, and the practice of creating art is connected for me. Just like two sides of a coin. One the shiny side of the other. Over time, the two became an integral part of my blog as well.
Off the mat
The practice of yoga has helped me feel more confident off the mat as well. My growing yoga practice has helped me connect more honestly to myself and my art. Off the mat, I have learned to deal more calmly with personal and professional challenges. I have made lasting connections to my yoga community. Nurturing connections through yoga and art, I have found them to be forever intertwined in my work and personal growth. Yoga is more than a workout of course, it is a lifestyle. Over the years, I have developed a home practice to bridge the gaps between classes and my own schedule. The benefits of being able to “take it with me” when I traveled or to practice on my own when studio classes weren’t available was a given.
Built-in friends come with the yoga community. We meet truly inspiring people who are supportive and understanding and legitimately interested in each other as human beings. You can also take your friends with you to yoga and grow within those friendships that already exist. No matter where you are, there are yoga classes to be experienced – even online. You don’t have to know a soul to attend. There is also a universal language of yoga, and I don’t just mean Sanskrit. I mean that when you take your seat, and chant OM with those around you, a sense of unity happens. The room becomes a welcoming place, quietly supporting and holding you in its warmth and grace. The support of fellow yogis and your teacher can become a springboard for more.
For me, yoga began to grow as part of my creative endeavors, inspiring me, helping me to connect with my imagination. For you, it might provide connections for parenting clubs, dinner parties or further education in common interests. The possibilities are endless! So go out there and build a community through your yoga class. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
A more purposeful practice
I have written on this blog many times about yoga. As I expand my own knowledge and practice within yoga, I am beginning to recognize a broader purpose for myself and my blog. By expanding my knowledge and yoga practices through the RAD Fresh Yoga Journey I am growing a following and a deeper understanding of the entire experience. I continue to practice at a local studio, Montana Om, with my friends and our teacher Bonnie Kiser.
She has encouraged all of us to reach for more; get out of our comfort zones, and some to even prepare to substitute teach classes. Recently, I was asked to teach SUP yoga! I did and it was so much fun! It was nice to know that my paddle board obsession and my 20+ years of yoga worked together to form an opportunity. Who knew all those years ago that SUP yoga would be a thing?
There’s always more
To gain a sense of “more,” I dedicate myself to a home practice, including journaling. Because I spend lots of hours researching articles and references for the yoga journaling prompts, reading yoga articles has become a favorite online pastime. I am enjoying this process immensely as I expand my yoga knowledge and writing experiences. Adding to my knowledge through additional online class offerings has been fun and easy too. Even if you think that online classes aren’t up your alley – give them a try. Yoga teachers have gotten onboard with the online process and it is SO much better now than ever before.
I guide the yoga journaling practice through weekly prompts. Although still in its infancy, the process is beginning to give me an expanded sense of the possibilities of a more well-rounded practice for myself and others. Researching, journaling and connecting my actual practice to learning and growing within yoga has led me to a range of new experiences and possibilities. I really think that yoga journaling is just the beginning of the next chapter of my yoga journey. Although MORE isn’t always better, MORE is always available. My yoga teacher laughingly reminds us all the time that there is always more. Through her, I have learned that yoga has an eternal flame that is forever growing and changing, morphing into what we need personally. We just have to be open to grace to find it.
The benefits of yoga
As we roll into Fall, and we spend more time inside again, I will be adding a lot MORE to my yoga practice and you can too! Try applying what you learn on the mat more consciously to your daily lives. I hope you will consider joining me for yoga journaling to continue to grow your yoga practice in new and inspiring ways. Maybe with a little extra training, reading and researching new opportunities, you can discover MORE too. Check out the health benefits of yoga here in this pdf or read more about the general physical benefits. There are many ways to celebrate National Yoga Month (or begin yoga) if you haven’t already gotten started. Check out a class in studio or online, read up on the benefits of yoga to your mind, body and soul, or join me for a guided yoga journaling practice to round out your practice.
We are only a third of the way through the month, and so I know you have lots of yoga practices still to be enjoyed. In the meantime, check out the links above and consider inspiring yourself to a happier, healthier, more mindful life through yoga and journaling!