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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

“Yoga Saved My Life.” 

Why did we go all out in putting together this yoga issue? There are several reasons, but the one that matters most is that yoga changes lives.

For a publication with its mission in its name, I cannot think of a phenomenon in our current culture that can claim as profound an impact on the way people perceive and live their lives as yoga has, both in terms of numbers of people and the depth of that impact.

But “saved my life?” Those are the words of Mandy Roberts, owner of FORM {yoga} in Decatur. And she means that not only figuratively, but literally as well.

“Divorce was my awakening,” says Roberts. “I had the perfect life. A huge house, garden, pool, two kids in private school. And suddenly, none of that was there anymore. There was no ground. I searched and grasped for anything that looked like a life buoy.”

Roberts explains that yoga kept her out of her head and in her body, in the present moment, and in a space where she could modify on the fly, fail, and know that it’s okay to fail and get up again.

But that was just the beginning. Asked what’s the biggest difference between Mandy before yoga and Mandy after yoga, Roberts is quick on the draw: “I was much more judgmental. I thought I was right about everything. I was quicker to anger.”

And how, exactly, does mat time —the physical practice of asanas—accomplish this transformation? It’s because yoga is hardly just about postures and poses. Indeed, asana practice, that which in the West we know as “yoga,” is only a small part of “YOGA.” In Brother Shankara’s article on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, he writes that yoga is “the ‘royal path’ to conquering your internal nature.”

In truth, Roberts has extended her practice off the mat and into the pages of spiritual masters. “Yoga teaches us compassion,” she says. “When we find compassion for ourselves, we start viewing the world as it truly is instead of what we want it to be.” And that makes all the difference.

Finding compassion for ourselves starts, not coincidentally, on the mat.

“When your teacher is telling you to do all these impossible poses, you start getting all these judgmental thoughts,” Roberts says. “Am I open to learning? What’s coming up for me? I have to be kind to myself.”

In a magazine whose content revolves around awakening in all forms—hearts and souls, bodies and minds—is there any practice or discipline that encompasses as wide a swath of editorial scope as yoga? I think not.

And that alone explains our eight pages of yoga features this month. Enjoy!

Paul Chen

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