Love, Discipline, Quiet, and The Heat
Masaaki Okamura

As we know, yoga is meant for healing and wellness. It is also for coming to terms with who we are, trying to understand meaning and purpose, and for drawing from our potential while having to face certain difficulties.

We continue to return to our mats because we have a fundamental love for the practice and how it makes us feel. Love is powerful. It helps us return without feeling forced and it helps us stay the course when at times it can feel difficult. Love becomes a main driving force that leads to wanting deeper understanding, exploration, and even growth (wanting to get better). Without the love, we begin to lose interest. Showing up becomes a burden and inevitably we stop growing. Therefore, love nurtures our practice and the practice helps nurture the love.

Although love alone can certainly be enough to take us to a certain point, there is a time to commit. Like anything we can start with a childlike interest genuinely turning into love for what we do such as playing an instrument, perhaps an introduction to a new activity such as golf, tennis and yes, even yoga. If we truly want to get better we need discipline. Taking the time to simply practice scales on your instrument, or repeating the same swing hundreds of times, if we want to get better at what we love to love, it requires even more discipline. Our practice is the same. If we want to get better on our mats we need to study the body, how we breathe. We need to study how we are seeing ourselves, train our minds. We need to study how we feel and our attitude. We do this with a high standard not because we feel inadequate about who we are but rather because we love.

Once we begin to not just show up and participate, but finally begin to practice, yoga happens. We find ourselves beginning to notice things with not only a much more refined lens but even from a different perspective. We are able to focus with ease, sit with discomfort without feeling overwhelmed, and we finally begin understanding the power of quiet. In the quiet we feel more accurately, we see ourselves much more honestly, we begin to explore who we are, what our purpose is, and how we can feel more fulfilled rather than going on day after day simply surviving suffering.

Finally the heat.  Of course, there are functional benefits to being in the heat: good for muscle joints, can help with blood flow, etc.  However, the often forgotten element of heat is that it is a tool. It's easy enough to feel peace if we are with people we love or walking through a favorite park or even sitting in a favorite chair. However, that is not how we can spend the entire day. The heat is very overstimulating, uncomfortable, it causes us to first react, get panicked sometimes even afraid or angry.  But if a heated practice works for you, somewhere inside we begin falling in love. We keep coming back. We even begin to enjoy it while we are there. We are learning to be calm. You see, the heat is a gift. The heat helps teach us how to remain at peace even in the most challenging moments. It's training us to be calm even when we are facing difficulties. So we don't react and regret, we do our best to be the best version of ourselves even if others challenge our patience and kindness.  It helps us be better.

So next time when you are on the mat in the heat, don't forget to remember what you’re practicing, move with intention, to love, to be disciplined and to finally quiet down.