Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2013

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negative mind states and shift our individual paradigms. Fears are put into perspective, we begin to realize that positive outcomes are possible, and we become more courageous, both on and off the mat. "Yoga is like a mental shower," explains Israel. "You shower your body every day; yoga does this for the mind." Put another way, "It clears out the cache of your mental hard drive so you can decide how you want to react during the day." It supports our choosing how to respond, so we don't always draw from pre-set reactions, or our stories. Israel believes the best way to overcome fears is with radical self-acceptance and self-love, which we can practice on the mat. "Learn how to love yourself and fears will naturally reduce," says Israel. "There will be some days where you do certain poses and some days you don't, but don't worry about that, just enjoy being there. You know when you've shown up on your mat and you're doing your best that you don't need approval from others in the room, and this transfers into life." This brings me back to my handstand conundrum. I ask a much larger question: Why am I doing yoga in the first place? Is it to do a perfect handstand or is there a more significant goal? I realize now that it doesn't matter if I do a perfect handstand every class or not. What matters is that I don't get rattled if I don't. Strengthening my mental patterns of equanimity, self-love and acceptance is certainly more important. Israel suggests an even loftier goal: "Yoga allows you to explore your comfort zone by continuously giving you insights about how beautiful and divine you really are once you are able to release your negative mental chatter. Yoga is the union between the mind, the body and the divine so that you realize you are at one with the universe." Indeed, "That's the goal of yoga," he clarifies, it's not "to do a perfect handstand." august / september 2013 25

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