Yoga and Freedom!

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Hello folks!
 
I hope everyone had a safe and fun 4th of July. I hope you were able to spend time with family and friends, and pause for at least a moment to be grateful for the many people that work tirelessly to keep our country safe and free!
 
I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom, and a lot about yoga, and particularly how yoga helps to create freedom in our lives. When you google the word “freedom”, here’s what comes up:
 
“the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint”
and then later…
“the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”
 
So what does this have to do with yoga?
 
EVERYTHING, FOLKS!
 
My teacher very often says that through the practice of yoga, we aim to “empty ourselves of ourselves”. Which can sound confusing, right? But what he means is that through yoga, we are undoing patterns, letting go of our “stories” that we have about ourselves and everyone around us, and acknowledging our conditioning so that we may be free of the lens that clouds our perception of every experience, and become free of our own suffering.
 
Have you ever felt like a prisoner of your physical condition, or your thoughts? Same!
 
When we are in physical pain or experiencing injury, isn’t it hard to focus on anything else? Or if you’re stressing about something, you don’t enjoy yourself in the present moment, right? And we get attached to these feelings and emotions and identify with them so strongly that we forget who we REALLY ARE – divine beings having a human experience! We think we are “injured Bob” or “stressed Nancy” – We think we are our body and our feelings and our emotions, not our Soul.
 
So in yoga, (if we are practicing appropriately for our own condition), we have an opportunity to free ourselves of physical patterns that don’t serve us, potentially heal injury, create new physical patterns that DO serve us, access and influence our nervous system through our breathing, and quiet our minds, or create better thought patterns. We have an opportunity to become free of our own suffering! How freaking cool is that? Freedom to move as we please (without pain), freedom to think as we please, and acceptance for anything that is unable to change (aka freedom of identifying as a victim of something that we may suffer from).
 
In my experience, it definitely takes work, consistency, gentleness, and dedication! Same as in this country, freedom doesn’t just appear – but it IS hiding in there underneath our stories and conditioning! We just need to uncover it and become “empty” of our identifications that are clouding our perception and enabling our victim mentality.
 
So tell me, how has yoga helped you reduce suffering – physically, emotionally, or mentally? How has yoga helped you to be free?