My chiropractor once shared with me that he took part in a study that observed what happened to the bones after a chiropractic adjustment.
What he saw was that 30 minutes after being adjusted the muscles pulled the bones back into their old, incorrect spot. Then 30 minutes later the muscles moved the bones back into the correct position.
It’s as if they were reminded of where they were supposed to be and then the body corrected itself.
This reminded me of what happens through yoga. We go to yoga for a metaphorical adjustment. We intentionally adjust our bodies and minds to realign them and we leave feeling great.
But our ingrained habits and traits are very strong. Yogis call these habits samskaras. They’re like the muscle that pulls what we’ve just aligned back into its old patterning over time.
Years of reacting in a certain way can reach out and grab us just when we think we’ve left them behind for good.
Longtime yoga teacher Christina Sell puts it this way: “One fun (and humbling) thing about growing up is seeing how many times I thought I was changed only to realize what I thought was lasting change was simply a moment of freedom.”
Years of practicing yoga, instituting good habits and cleaning house internally can improve our lives externally so much that we sometimes think we’ve been cured. We’re past whatever it was we wanted to get past. We’re free of whatever it was that had us in its grip.
Life has a way of testing the new-and-improved us to see if we’re really walking our talk. How we respond when life meets our expectations is not as revealing as how we respond when it doesn’t.
The practice of yoga is a unifying one, not one of disunity. Through yoga we begin to unveil the inherent unity of our mind and spirit, of our head and heart, of our body and soul.
It’s not that we create the union, it’s that we become present and still enough to observe what’s already there, thumping in our hearts and rushing through our veins.
We are already whole. We are already complete. We are already free.
The more we remind ourselves how to stay aligned, the easier it is to return there when our samskaras pull us out of alignment. This is how we find the freedom hidden in the most compressed situations and how we maintain that freedom when life becomes challenging and intense.
We keep reminding ourselves. We keep creating healthy samskaras. We keep holding space for our self to grow in, whether that means digging through dirt or blossoming in the sunlight.
When our old habits show up we allow for them, we forgive them, and we learn from them. We bathe in the freedom of being ourselves.