Yoga IS Worth It

Here’s one thing that every student of yoga knows—yoga is hard but it’s worth it. Sometimes yoga is even painful but that’s part of the practice. It’s a good pain that eventually makes the body, mind, and spirit feel better.

No effort is ever lost. This is true in yoga and also in life. Yoga is after all a practice that aims to improve the quality of life.

People come to the yoga practice for all sorts of reasons. Some start yoga looking for physical benefits that range from flexibility to strength to pain relief to a better night’s sleep. Others come looking for emotional benefits like inner peace, reduced anxiety, balm for depression, and anger management. All these physical, emotional, and mental benefits sit within the larger context of yoga as a spiritual practice. It doesn’t matter if a student realizes the mind-body-spirit connection when they unroll their mat. Sooner or later the yoga practice works to build an inner bridge between these more subtle realms.

Take a student who wants to practice three times a week to increase flexibility for other sports and activities. This student will often find yoga to be uniquely challenging with some classes providing nearly daunting sequences. Arm balances, backbends, deep twists, inversions, and forward folds ask a lot of the body. Teachers who have been practicing for many years often demonstrate these asanas with deceptive ease and flow. The new student often leaves with mixed feelings about yoga. They aren’t sure whether the practice is for them or not.

Some dig in deeply and search for the perfect class for them. But, testing each class and each teacher is time-consuming. Some classes marked for beginners are way too easy and others are way too hard. Students increasingly practice online as an entry to the yoga tradition. But figuring out how to navigate the Netflix of yoga can be overwhelming. Not everyone is tech-savvy, after all. Class lengths for online streaming classes are variable. Some are one hour long and replicate the feeling of a sweaty in-person class. Others are a short 10 or 20 minutes designed to fit into a busy day. The longer class may seem like it’s a better value but it may then be harder to carve out the full hour. The shorter classes are often easy to procrastinate because the mind seems to always think those 10 to 20 minutes will be available at some mythic time “later”.

Finding a yoga teacher isn’t always easy. It can be a little bit like finding a romantic partner. There has to be chemistry, accessibility, trust and respect. Without that, it’s hard for a student to keep coming back to class. There are many yoga teachers and places to practice yoga these days. Speaking from my place within this world of yoga, I recommend to all students searching for a teacher to seek a teacher who has the best training available. A great teacher is someone who has immersed themselves in the traditional yoga teaching from India and who understands not only the yoga poses but the deep, rich philosophical and spiritual practices of yoga. And of course, let it be someone who carries enough of that magic of inspiration to be a magnetic pull back to the mat, especially on days when doubt, indecision and quitting arise.

Here’s one thing that every student of yoga knows—yoga is hard but it’s worth it. Sometimes yoga is even painful but that’s part of the practice. It’s a good pain that eventually makes the body, mind, and spirit feel better. There is a good deal of yoga philosophy that talks about tapas, the Sanskrit word that indicates a need to go through certain pains that purify along the path of yoga. This lesson is perhaps the key tenet of much yoga philosophy, that is, that some amount of suffering can be expected but that suffering is not in vain. Instead, whatever effort is put into the practice is never lost, but always accumulated along the long road towards peace and happiness.

By Kino MacGregor

International yoga teacher, Kino MacGregor has over 20 years of experience in Ashtanga yoga and 18 years of experience in Vipassana Meditation. She is one of a select group of people to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga and practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. With over 1 million followers on Instagram and over 700,000 subscribers on YouTube and Facebook, she spreads the message of yoga around the world.

To Kino, yoga is more than making shapes. It is a daily ritual where people tune deeply into their spiritual center and experience the peace of the Eternal Divine. Her goal is to make the tools of traditional yoga accessible for all different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, and ages. She believes yoga is truly for everyone.

Find on on Instagram here.

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