The Unspoken Responsibility of a Yogi (From the Editor)

Ashton August
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“You may be the only Bible someone reads today.” –Anonymous

It was the first day after many days of traveling. I was incredibly excited to have arrived at my much-anticipated destination, yet my body was craving the familiar flow of yoga that soothes both the mental and physical malady of flight. We were on the boat en route to our next stop; I had a full day to myself. I took my mat to a secluded place on deck, rolled it out and began. The sun was against my back and the hills were my view as I started my practice.

We have all seen how magnetic yoga can be. Whether we’re at home and our pets won’t leave us be, or we’re doing that spontaneous pose in public and people congregate. It was shortly after I’d finished my practice that a few women approached me excitedly and asked if they could join me. Of course! I couldn’t be more thrilled that once again, yoga had become a vehicle of meeting people and gaining friends.
 
Recommended read: What Yoga Is to Me
 
Later that day, a group of people approached me. They were from the UK, and an elderly gentleman said to me, “I’ve seen the poses you were doing in photos, but I always thought they were photo shopped—I never realized people could actually do those things!” Keep in mind, I was doing a very basic Vinyasa flow with ample stretching and therapeutic poses—we’re not talking handstands or advanced movements here. I was so excited at the opportunity to open their minds and expose them to the benefits of yoga.
 
The gentleman went on to tell me that he couldn’t even touch his toes, that he’d never been able to. Funny enough, I grew up being very stiff-jointed and not limber whatsoever. In high school, despite being a dancer, I had accepted that I would never touch my toes. Yet once I started practicing yoga, my muscles lengthened and my flexibility quickly increased…I was touching my toes in no time! I showed the man a very gentle forward fold, and suggested he do it for just 5 deep breaths in the morning and again at night. The very next day, he approached me to show me his progress. He had truly gained in flexibility!
 

 
Throughout the rest of my journey, I had the pleasure of various people of all ages and backgrounds approaching me to ask about yoga. A few even joined me in my practice, and it was the highest honor to meet these people precisely where they were physically in their flexibility, and help them make tiny steps of progress. Spreading the gift of yoga is all about opening the potential of health and wellness to all people on an individual level. Just because that gentleman had lived the first 70+ years of his life in one mindset (not being able to touch his toes), that didn’t mean that he had to keep living that way. By the end of the trip, I must have spoken to half the passengers on board, and they all bid me farewell, truly grateful for the opportunity to learn about new ways of improving how they feel, and empowering themselves to feel better.

We all actively influence others each and every day.

This story has nothing to do with my personal story. Instead, this is an inspirational call to action: we can all be that catalyst of change in someone’s life. In fact, whether we realize it or not, whether we consciously do it or want to do it or not, we all actively influence others each and every day. Truly, you may be the only Bible someone reads today. The choices we make are the vehicles of our influence. Whether we decide to smile at the stranger passing us on the street, or simply look the other way. Whether we decide to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to us on the plane, or simply put our headphones on.
 
I have found that choosing the interaction, that choosing to be the positive light in someone’s day not only benefits them—it also benefits us. Because we receive when we give. We are improved through our positive actions. Gandhi once said to be the change you wish to see in the world. If you’re reading this, odds are you truly believe in yoga. You have found an avenue for empowering yourself and improving your wellbeing.
 
While you don’t have to go preach about yoga on the streets, I do invite you to become aware of the potential for positive influence that you have. Perhaps you have a relative who suffers from arthritis, or a friend who struggles with anxiety. These are the small yet life-changing opportunities you have to be the change you wish to see, and to positively influence those around you. Whether it’s your closest friend or a stranger you met five minutes ago, we are all in this together. The sooner we all begin acting like it and treating others like this, the sooner we will experience a more positive, healthy, and peace-filled world. It starts with you, and it starts today. Make the conscious choice, and be the change. Yoga is your vehicle. Go spread your light.
 

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Ashton August

Ashton is the founder and Editorial Director of YogiApproved.com. She is also a published author (check out Learn Grow Shift, her 30-day workbook for personal growth) and yoga instructor. You can practice yoga online with her on YA Classes. Connect with her on social @ashtonaugustyoga

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