a) I'm inclined to say things to people such as: "Yoga has changed my life!" and
b) Yoga hasn't actually changed my life.
Wait-- what's that?
Yes-- my life has in fact changed since I started practicing yoga on a regular basis, making it a true priority rather than something I do for a few days here and there with months of no yoga in between.
However, I need to be clear: It's not yoga that has changed my life-- it's me that has changed my life.
True, the change happened in great part due to the catalyst of my now-almost-daily practice.
But it wasn't "yoga" who did the actual changing.
Yoga allowed me the space and time on my mat to reflect what in my life needed changing, and the consistent repetition of my sometimes-rigorous practice helped me strengthen my mind and body to the point where I felt confident in-- and capable of-- my ability to make those changes.
At the end of the day, though, I myself had to make some hard choices about what to put into my body, and what thoughts I'd allow to linger in my mind.
I had to convince myself to go to sleep at what I'd previously have considered an unreasonable hour, in order to wake up at what I'd previously considered an unreasonable hour, in order to complete my practice before my day got hectic.
I had to will myself to follow through with projects I might otherwise have abandoned or not pursued in the first place; I had to catch myself before the act of speaking harshly towards people who annoy me.
And so on.
It wasn't "yoga" who did any of this things.
It wasn't "yoga" who made any of these choices and changes.
It was me.
Would I have made any of these choices or changes without yoga?
So, then, perhaps it would be most accurate for me to say: "Yoga has proved invaluable in assisting me to change my life."
Because yoga is not a person. It's a powerful tool.
Consider: just as the task of hammering a nail into a wall with my fist is a seemingly hopeless endeavor without an actual hammer (or something similar), the task of changing my life for the better without a consistent Mind-Body-Spirit practice probably isn't going to happen without my yoga.
But changing behaviors and thought patterns is not like making a cup of packaged instant soup-- "Add yoga and stir. Presto!"-- it's like making a fresh, homemade soup from scratch.
Even if you have all of the raw ingredients sitting on your countertop, you've got to do the chopping, the peeling, the seasoning, and so on.
If you want a bland, mediocre soup (at best), I guess you could just throw everything "as is" into the pot with some water and hope for the best.
Or-- you could put in the work and maybe come up with something delicious.
So, who actually does the work?
The knives? The pot? The vegetables?
The cook does the work, with the help of his/her (admittedly essential) tools.
So, yes-- I'm grateful for my new set of tools.
After ten months of developing a consistent yoga practice, I'm starting to realize that-- with the help of these tools-- I'm able to change my life.
(All it takes is practice.)