Neighbors of East Windsor Article:
Feeding Your Spirit
By Tracey L. Ulshafer
Many people have come to know the practice of yoga as a series of exercises. While the postures are a part of the yoga practice, they are not the whole or goal of this ancient art form.
Most yoga teachers agree that yoga is a science of self-realization. There are systematic steps that are taken and constantly worked upon in order to achieve this place. Ultimately, it is a spiritual method in which to encounter the Divine or God or Source energy. Of course this is different for each person, but the theory in the practice of yoga is that this Universal energy is not a separate concept of “person,” but rather an innate quality that resides within all living beings. And thusly, all beings are thought to be equal, since the essence of life travels no differently between a human and a plant or an animal.
Although most people come to yoga for the physical application, it is not uncommon to suddenly find yourself transformed mentally, emotionally and spiritually by the practice. In today’s world we have an extreme extroverted focus – we tend to think of and hold true all things that are outside of our own self. All day long we worry about the work we have to do and the people we need to care for and what other people think or know about us, and what is going on in the world or in our country. While these are not “bad” things to care about, it should not be the only focus. In fact, we learn through yoga that when we focus so completely on the elements outside of ourselves, that we ultimate never truly find happiness or peace, because we lose connection with the primary energy that drives this happiness to begin with.
Once a person begins a yoga practice and starts to move the energy around in their body, it will be challenging. But eventually it becomes easier and easier. Soon, positions that you thought would be impossible are attained and you are able to sit or stand for longer periods of time without pain or discomfort. These physical changes are supportive of the thought that yoga is for the body. But another strange thing begins to happen once the body is feeling better: the energy is shifted and lifted. Soon, you have more vitality and zest for life. When this occurs you realize when something is not right for you. You feel how wrong a job may be or that a person in your life is not supporting you. And most importantly, you learn to love yourself more and find the necessity of feeding your own spirit.
What truly brings you joy may not be what you think at first. The former conditions or judgments that we put on people, places and things begin to fall away because we realize how superfluous they are to our own inner peace.
After practicing yoga for about twenty-five years and teaching for nearly twenty, I recently had another realization that I had not been feeding my own spirit again. My journey to teach others how to heal themselves through this practice led me to focus outward again. Of course helping people and working in such a way is a wonderful thing that I do not regret. But forgetting to honor my own Divine nature, that was not good. For in the process of working tirelessly for others, I actually was not giving all that I could to that cause. I became tired, restless, and at times, even hopeless. As soon as I began to drive more energy back into my own yoga practice, things started to shift again, as if by magic. Suddenly I realized the true nature of this situation, and began to make the necessary changes that will not only bring more happiness for me and my life, but give me the energy and vitality in which to share that with others. So by feeding my own spirit through a renewed yoga practice, I therefore have the capability of helping others even better than I have been.
So yes, come to yoga for the physical benefits. But stay for the renewed spiritual energy that transforms your life.
One Yoga & Wellness Center is located at 156 South Main Street in Hightstown Borough. Tracey has been teaching in the greater East Windsor area since 2000 and welcomes any questions from new inquiring students. Our new student specials offer you a chance to immerse into a week or month of yoga to see just how transformative this practice can be for you. Check us out at www.OneYogaCenter.net or call (609) 918-0963. Start feeding your spirit today!