A Love Letter to Yoga: Takeaways from a Decade of Practice

My mat has always been more forgiving than a church pew — a brokedown palace of redemption in difficult periods where I strengthened my resolve to pursue peace.

These are the lessons I’ve grasped when I haven’t been too busy stumbling around in the dark, tripping over my own feet.

1. Stillness is an experience of intelligent, multidimensional, timeless design — awareness and consciousness felt simultaneously. Witness consciousness thrives in stillness. It watches the self reflect, process, grow and flourish without interfering needlessly.

2. The first thought is often the right thought. It is typically quiet.

3. The evolution of human intellect is biased toward counting, language, expression, and record-keeping because these tools and practices have improved our chances of survival. They also have made our minds crowded.

4. Yoga as a body of knowledge has been shared and handed down, refined each generation by experience. Respect for a tradition requires homework. Be a student of what you practice.

5. Occasionally the counterpose is the reason for the pose.

6. Yoga is a physical practice that opens up into the spiritual — a chance to witness traumas, perceived failures and other repressed experiences from a warrior’s distance. You may find moments when it’s possible to set some of your baggage down for a while. Take them.

7. Relatedly, for all the ruts you’ll inevitably fall into — straining, striving, bad days, crises — build in a corresponding set of recovery practices (yin, pranayama, meditation, easy resting asanas) to utilize when you need to back off.

8. Kundalini is powerful.

9. Poses can talk. Some of the things they have said to me repeatedly are:

  • Learn to stay.

  • Learn to relinquish what you know about doubt and resistance.

  • To be blocked is to be in the grasp of misunderstanding; let go first so you can approach the pose in understanding.

  • Learn to breathe, then how to breathe easier.

10. There is a really beautiful moment in long-practiced poses where ease flows into every cell. Train yourself to really anchor into those, then exalt.

Alison McConnell