One evening, a Native American grandmother sat around the crackle of the village fire telling stories to the young.
“There is a battle going on inside every human. Including you. It’s a battle of two wolves — a dark and a light wolf. The dark wolf represents envy, arrogance, anxiety, ego, inferiority, regret, greed, self-pity, guilt, false pride, fear, pain, anger, jealousy, rage; the light wolf represents love, peace, humility, kindness, serenity, generosity, trust, tranquility, compassion, empathy, joy, gratitude.”
The grandmother sips her tea and turns silent, waiting for one of the wide-eyed kids to take the bait.
One finally does. “Grandma, which wolf wins?”
The Grandmother responds, “Whichever one you choose to feed.”
At first when you come to yoga, you may be unaware of the dark places that are in your body. But just as much as yoga brings out the light, happy, carefree moments, it also highlights the dark; sadness, loss, anger. This becomes the work of yoga; to get rid of the dark, or at least dim the dark.
What separates us, and really transforms us is our CHOICES. We CHOOSE to eat healthy, because great food creates health in our body. We CHOOSE to practice yoga, because the practice makes us feel good in our body. We CHOOSE to work because we have gifts to contribute to others, and yes, money is a side benefit. We CHOOSE to spend time with family and friends, because our mental health depends on healthy interactions.
All of these are important things to CHOOSE, but did you know that near the top of your CHOICES should be a yoga practice? And WHY?? Yoga practice begins to bring more light in our bodies, thoughts and minds, so that dark CHOICES cannot rule our thoughts. Everyone knows that sitting down binge eating and watching leads to unwanted pounds, and feeling off.
Sometimes despite our best efforts, we CHOOSE to travel down the dark path. We blame the family, weather, or others for feeling down or blue. Luckily, for some of us, it is short lived until we snap out of that way of thinking. Just this morning I woke up, and started to run down the things I had to do, and WOKE up, made the change into Gratitude. I can and do CHOOSE my thoughts, and good thoughts come easier with yoga practice. As I started my day with Gratitude thoughts, my body lightened up, and gave me fuel for all of those things I had to do.
I realize now that before Christmas I was also letting my thoughts travel in the wrong direction. It’s no surprise that I got a head cold. I also took a week off of yoga practice. When I came back I had some shoulder pain and stiffness. Thank God for all the years of consistent practice I had built up, because within 2 practices the pain was gone. See, the dark travels and tries to settle somewhere in your being: your joints, heart, organs. If you shoo it out of one area, it might settle somewhere else, until finally with consistent yoga the dark finally gives up trying to find a home in you. Despite darkness trying to get into your mind, or your body, you feel light.
I’m finding there are levels to our light/dark ratios. When you bump your head on the next spiritual level, more darkness comes in. I think the saying goes, “new level? new devil”.
Thank God there are yogi’s that came before us, and gave us tips, and guidelines on how to live and banish the dark. It’s important not only to do the yoga physically, but to sit down and learn the philosophy behind the poses. That is where change really happens, when we live the yoga off our mat as well.
See you on the mat,