With our thoughts we make the world.

Sometimes that yoga truism sounds wonderful. Sometimes we want to sock it in right in the kisser. Sometimes, we have bad days.

Yoga is full of ideas like that one: ideas super-simple, that sound great and totally right when you hear them during a blissful moment of a yoga class, yet nevertheless challenging to apply fully to life.

In a recent post I wrote about yoga’s magic. Most of us who’d bother to be reading this blog must have some personal experience with yoga’s magic.

If you made a list of all the things you’d like yourself to feel and be today, it would be a pretty inspiring list to read. In the wrong mood, it could also come across as quite daunting, I imagine. Another candidate for a punch in the nose. A tall order.

But here’s another opportunity for yoga’s special brand of magic. Because that list you could make – of the best possibilities for yourself on any given day – is also true. That’s what yoga tells us. We are all the most beautiful possibility, most beautiful manifestation. Every day, it is. You are that amazing. You just aren’t always able to see it.

Yoga encourages us to remember that we are not our thoughts; we are greater, better, more permanent, more beautiful, and deeper than even our loveliest thoughts. In moments of the most profound joy and highest achievement, we are not thinking or piecing together words. We are feeling and being. Anton Chekhov, the great short story writer, knew this. He writes that “dumbness” (as in temporary inability to think or speak) is the most predominant mental quality in the greatest moments of human life.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about thoughts and routines. Like many of us, I have lots of routines in my life. Routines can be great; certainly the good ones have good uses. But they also have pernicious effects. Routines can deaden our senses, pattern our reactions and our thoughts, drag us to places where we aren’t our best. For instance, there is a place on my drive home from work where I almost always start hating every driver around me, and even disliking most pedestrians, and that same point tends to lure my arm towards the glovebox, where I often have a bag of M & Ms hidden. Sigh. These are not my most amazing manifestations.

Yoga is amazing because its a reinvention, a repurposing of routines. Yoga poses become familiar very quickly, and even though you learn new poses and new sequences and the idiosyncrasies of a particular school of yoga, teacher, time of day, you are repeating the same postures over and over again, but with joy, peace, and awareness. Yoga can teach us a new way to look at our routines. With deep breathing. With patience and playfulness. With curiosity. With an eye to finding joy in what our cynical selves could otherwise consider mundane.

If we can apply what we learn in our yoga routines to our daily lives, we will feel that magic spread. With our yoga we learn to let more peace and joy into our thoughts. Tomorrow, maybe the most beautiful moment of my day will be that moment on my drive home. Or, tomorrow, maybe I’ll walk home. Sometimes circumventing a bad day is within our control.

  • Elizabeth