Yoga does not change the way we see things. It transforms the person who sees.
When I first started practicing yoga, it is fair to say I didn’t know anything about yoga philosophy, or really what I was getting into. The year was 2008 and yoga was starting to get popular, and with the popularity came word of mouth that is was a pretty awesome thing to do for your body. My practice started slow, moving from yoga DVDs to studios to self-practice and eventually to yoga books explaining yoga history and philosophy. When I began to pay attention to the teachings of yoga beyond the physical asana, it completely changed how I applied practicing yoga to my life. It was no longer all about toning up my muscles, but instead more about how I could apply these yogi principles to my life. And for me, this is the true journey, because none if it happens fast. It takes time and patience, and most importantly, practice.
This year marks the 10th year of my yoga practice. It also marks the first year I have begun to appreciate eating pomegranates. What do the two have in common? In my eyes, everything.
This first time I saw a pomegranate, I didn’t know what the hell it was. I liked the taste of the juicy seeds, but found that the process of actually getting them, well, sucked.
If you have ever tried to harvest the seeds of the pomegranate, you may understand this frustration. Getting the seeds isn’t easy- It takes a fair amount of peeling and pulling the delicate inner layers of the fruit, with the addition of carefully moving around the delicate seeds surrounded by the nutritious and delicious red juice pouches. I found the process not worth my time and would opt for a POM juice if I ever wanted some of the sweet and tangy flavor. But most of the time, I just avoided them, as they seemed like a unnecessary challenge.
Recently, a few pomegranates were on sale at the grocery store. The price was enticing enough for me to step and buy a few and take on the challenge of eating one. It had been such a long time since I had actually eaten one, I had to stumble around getting into the outer layer. I opened the pomegranate and for the first time noticed how intricate and beautiful it was on the inside. I reflected on how this is something I had never noticed before, and now how it was so obvious I couldn’t not notice it. I was being more mindful, and perhaps a bit more grateful about the beauty of a pomegranate- something the I would have dismissed as a hassle before.
The next step was harvesting the seeds. I planned to save the seeds in a glad jar, and gently began plucking the seeds from the skin. I observed that curving the top layer helped to reveal new seeds, and how I could get multiple seeds out my removing them in a bunch. The whole process took me about 30-minutes, and at the end I had a full jar of pomegranate seeds and a new appreciation toward this seemingly difficult fruit.
So why the change? I have to credit yoga. Through my practice, I have learned to be more mindful, more grateful, and more willing to take on challenges without feeling overwhelmed. I believe this has also been a part of larger actions in my life than peeling a pomegranate, but the pomegranate provides the sweetest example. Yoga has helped me develop curiosity, patience and the ability to delay gratification to enjoy the process.
How has your yoga practice affected you off of the mat? Please let me know!