Yoga practice on the mat helps prepare us for the real yoga of our day-to-day lives. The postures and our physical, mental, and emotional reactions inside them are directly reflective of scenarios, relationships, and attitudes we have off the mat. Whether it’s a challenging yoga pose, or a hurricane, being laid off a job, or a relationship unexpectedly ending, life guarantees surprises and unanticipated detours. I believe one of yoga’s greatest gifts is that consistent practice helps to make our minds, not just our bodies, more supple- open to embracing unexpected changes more gracefully.
What many of us experienced last week with Hurricane Isaac and the mass power outages was an involuntary form of what yoga callspratyahara– sensory withdrawal. Things that normally dominate our senses were suddenly taken away: computers, TV, lights, air conditioning, cell phones, etc. Yoga invites us to watch our mind react to this subtraction, to observe our thought and feeling patterns, just like when we’re on our mat in a difficult pose. We may witness a tendency towards anxiety, restlessness, boredom, blame, impatience and can make a choice to not be overcome by any of these. We can dare to ask the question “Where do we get our power, what charges up our soul, when comforts and conveniences fall away?” This empowered awareness can help us plug into what yoga callsShakti. Shakti is the creative power source deep inside us. While Entergy works to restore the electricity to our buildings, yoga can help light us up from the inside out.