Changing the act of unconsciously doing things (in our daily life) into the act of consciously doing them. This is what yoga does.
It may be difficult to understand for beginners. Basically, it means that you focus on breathing and body movement, and you notice the condition of your body and mind right now. That is what we do in yoga.
In other words, if you have such a mind or perspective, every act changes into yoga even if you don’t do any yoga poses!
Focus on your body consciously and you will get information from the inside. This action will help you to realize that only you know what is good or bad for your body.
The other day, one person who got injured by an accident joined my yoga class. She still had some pain on the shoulder and lower back.
She asked me, “I should not do yoga in this condition, right?”. I replied to her. “If you feel some pain, it is better not to move your body forcedly
But she seemed uneasy. She asked me, “Should I take a rest today?” again and again. Each time, I answered “You can only do poses that you can do easily. But you should rest if you feel like you should.”. We repeated such conversations several times.
“I guess you must have known that your body can somewhat do yoga. Because if you thought you can’t do it at all, you won’t be here now.”.
She heard my words and told me “That’s true. I haven’t done any exercise since I got injured. That’s why I want to move my body and be refreshed.”.
After all, she promised me not to overdo it and joined the class. （I was relieved. Because she seemed fun and could do more yoga than I thought!）
What I want to tell you from this episode is only you can know what is right for you. I can tell you the general knowledge about health and yoga. But it is totally your choice if you follow the advice or not. Ask your body and mind, listen to your inner voice and choose the best way for you. In yoga classes, that should be the same.
“How do you feel when bending your knees deeper?”. (If you feel uncomfortable, you need to adjust your position. )
“Is this feeling of stretching good or bad for your hamstrings?”. (If you have terrible ache, you have to release the pose. )
Anytime you can choose to go ahead or stop there.
This is intelligence. And, I think this intelligence will be nurtured by practicing yoga. Reach your arms up, step your right leg forward. For every movement, observe what is happening on your body and mind. By doing that, you can be aware of your current condition. By continuing this practice, your behavior in daily life will be more peaceful over time. And, these acts will lead you to the philosophy “On the mat, off the mat, always doing yoga.“.