Yoga is a powerful practice.
Physical asana (the poses themselves) can help to make your body supple and strong.
An hour of movement focused on honouring your body and your breath can produce countless positive side effects for your well-being.
But sometimes due to the relaxed nature of many styles of yoga, it is easy to forget about one of the most important benefits to regular practice; inner strength.
True, that there are many more intense physical and spiritual paths that demand the cultivation of your deeper resolve. It takes momentous effort to climb a mountain or participate in an IronMan. And surely, monks living in secluded monasteries know a thing or two about self-discipline.
But for ordinary people who don't wish to become elite athletes or dedicate their lives to religious practice, yoga is one possible path to developing profound inner strength.
One simple reason is that study of yoga in any and all its forms takes discipline.
It takes time and effort to embark on a physical or spiritual practice like yoga and once you get deep enough, you realize that there is no prize and no public acknowledgment to pat you on the back for getting to your mat (unless you are an Instagram yoga star, but even that attention is fleeting).
It sometimes takes heroic effort, but it is your own personal resolve that causes you to show up again and again.
And the benefits you experience are the ones you create for yourself because you showed up and paid attention to both the limitations and the opportunities on the mat that day.
No one else can do your practice for you.
You can't outsource it and it is a project that will take a lifetime.
Cultivating inner strength however, doesn't have to be grueling.
Yoga can be a container for you to have fun, be lighthearted and nurture yourself.
You are free to love your yoga practice for no other reason than because it makes you feel good. You don't need to impress anyone or prove anything.
You can simply be with the pure joy of body, mind and spirit united.
The exciting part is that through your discipline, dedication and passion you are giving yourself the inner strength to do things that are hard in every corner of your life.
You are learning to be in the midst of a challenge with no crowd cheering you on and no trophy awaiting you at the finish line.
Inner strength is the prize if you decide to apply the lessons from your study of yoga to your life.
As you move on your mat with patience, awareness and a kindness towards yourself you can amplify those qualities in the world.
As you inquire and stretch yourself to be open to new possibilities in your practice, you will walk through your life with more wonder and creative joy.
So unroll your mat today, or sit on your cushion or read your favourite book of yogic wisdom.
Your body, mind and spirit will be awakened and ready to give back to the world which so desperately needs the best of you.
Share your stories of inner strength and yoga in the comments below.
If you need some inspiration to help you get on the mat today, check out our library of classes here
Photo Credit: Kendell