Often when we think of acceptance, we think of it in terms of relating to other people: not judging someone by his or her shape or size, or the color of his or her skin. We’ve come a long way as a nation, which is why we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King today, but I’d like to discuss acceptance in terms of ourselves. In yoga, we recognize that if we cannot accept ourselves first, then we cannot hope to accept others. Similarly, if we cannot love ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to love us?
One of the many reasons why I love yoga is because it has taught me how to be still, and connect with who I truly am: a loving, loved, and lovable human being. It also helped me recognize that each and every one of us is meant to be like the sun, unconditionally loving and completely worthy of unconditional love.
According to a medical online dictionary: “Yoga should be done with an open, gentle, and non-critical mind; when one stretches into a yoga position, it can be thought of ACCEPTING and working on one’s limits. Impatience, self-criticism and comparing oneself to others will not help in this process of self-knowledge.”
When we tune in with ‘Om’ at the start of a class, it represents the universal consciousness all around us. It is an acknowledgement that we are all connected. Similarly, the greeting ‘Namaste’ can be defined as ‘the light within me bows to the light within you.’ Again, reminding us that we are all connected. This brings us full circle to the point of needing to accept ourselves first in order to accept others.
At Swanand Yoga, egos are left at the door. The emphasis is on working together in a tranquil, peaceful place. Our arms are open to new students that have not tried yoga before because they are afraid or are intimidated by the intensely gymnastic-esque classes so often found in NYC.
During any class at Swanand Yoga, your body will reap the rewards of yoga, but so will your mind. As you learn to breath and become an observer of your thoughts, you can connect with your truth. You can discover who you truly are and ACCEPT what you can do and don’t focus on what you can’t. You ACCEPT that everything doesn’t always go according to plan or the way we hoped it would go. Lastly and most importantly, the more you practice, the closer you will come to touching your innate happiness and bliss, which just so happens to be the definition of “Swanand.”
- Laura Krassner