What is vitality anyway?

The word itself sounds lively and attractive.  According to the Cambridge dictionary, it simply means energy and strength. Hmm. Okay, but it’s a bit boring, wouldn’t you say, given the animation you feel in just saying the word itself – Vitality! According to Google, it is a term used to describe a person’s ability to live, grow, and develop. Okay, now we are getting somewhere, as I can feel a skip in my step just reading this definition. But how about this: “the peculiarity distinguishing the living from the nonliving,” states Merriam Webster’s dictionary. Love that – right? Peculiarity is perfect for this word since vitality has many layers; it’s unique to each of us, unusual, and difficult to pinpoint.

Vitality: I thought of our basic vital signs when I first considered the word. You know, as you hear on Grey’s Anatomy, “his vitals are good,” which signals that this person is coming to, things in the body are starting to return to more normal levels of function. By contrast, without good vitals, we are in trouble physically. Google says that vital signs are measurements of the body’s most basic functions. The four main vital signs routinely monitored by medical professionals and health care providers include body temperature, pulse rate, and respiration rate.

Let’s put these two together. First, there are physical properties we need as human beings to function. These essential vital signs enable us to go about our lives without thinking about it. They are the underlying processes at work in us that allow us to work, play, rest, and move in the ways we want to live. We easily take them for granted as they’ve been working for us since birth, and for the most part, we don’t need to do much to care for them. Our wonderful bodies are designed to survive, so if there are any dips in these processes, the body will find the fix, and for the most part, without our knowing. However, if you encounter an injury or illness, you will quickly become humbled knowing your vital signs have gone awry, and little did you know until then all the work they do to keep you going. Now couple that with peculiarity or the unique and unusual parts of you that allow you to come alive in more ways than these “everybody has them” survival components. We are all given the capacity to breathe; we all have 98.6 body temperatures and a general pulse rate, yet I am completely different than you, and you are entirely different than me; in fact, the eight billion of us out there are not at all the same.

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Watch Michele discuss vitality

Welcome to the tenth annual International Day of Yoga

Held on June 21, the longest day of the year, this day is unique in and of itself. The United Nations sanctioned this day to honor and encourage yoga. If it’s important enough to have a special day, there must be something to this yoga worth looking into. What’s cool is that each year, the UN has a different theme, and this tells you that yoga has many benefits – look at some of the themes from past years: individual spiritual development, physical long-term health, mental stress reliever, and education on breathing well.

Yoga has such value, and anyone can do it. At BYSJ, we embrace this designated day and loudly proclaim its significance with free yoga all day.  Being a part of this day’s importance for the past nine years, we’ve also added our own themes, events, and activities – anything to help us spread yoga and, in our case, Bikram Yoga. With free yoga, it is the day to get your family and friends to come and try. Once you’ve done that, trust that the yoga will do its thing for them much like it did for you and me. Just introduce it and get out of the way. It’s hard for me not to want to shout about the benefits of a yoga practice – it’s not only my own life being better, but the thousands that I’ve taught and the thousands who stand with me across the globe who KNOW yoga ONLY does good, a great good. Not one person has ever come to me saying they made the wrong decision – in fact, most say, “Why haven’t I done this sooner?”

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Vitality is your birthright!

So, this year, BYSJ chose to highlight the fact that “vitality is your birthright.” Hopefully, you are more intrigued having read this far.  Like me, I bet you might have heard or read this phrase before and rolled your eyes, glossed it over, and chalked it up to something you just can’t comprehend or align with. But wait, it’s your birthright! If I read that right, doesn’t it mean I don’t need to do much to get it if it’s already in me?

Yes, and I am here to break it down – because guess what, vitality is your birthright! In a culture in which we believe, “work hard and earn the result,” how can you mean just being born means I get to have vitality?  How does that work? I already told you that the body has these built-in mechanisms that keep you alive and going. You also read that peculiarity or your individualistic pieces of you are already present, too. So what’s the problem? It’s a big one: you and I are not living that out.

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As great as it is, our world has us in a “please give it to me now” mode; think instant gratification. Amazon, Doordash, and now artificial intelligence take challenging tasks that make you think and, with a push of a button, give results without much thinking required. You bet it makes life so much more convenient, but when we use too much, and for sure, we are, then we are just surviving. I hate to say it, but over time, not only are we gradually becoming less and less satisfied with life, but we are also damaging our natural ways of being, how we individually think and feel, our physical movement, gut health, and more ATROPHIES – stops working! So, too, our social life as we begin to unknowingly isolate, having no need to go out, let alone talk to each other. Vitality is our nature, and when we aren’t in sync with it, we feel sick because we are: we are out of our natural rhythm and what starts to grow in us is the worst feeling of them all: numbness; we feel nothing! I get it; I live a great life, I am an aware type of person, and I, too, have days where I just need to get through it! But, unfortunately, you probably don’t even know that getting through it has become the norm. Like a frog in water, it gradually becomes so hot that we don’t feel the danger we are in.

But there is good news: none of us are meant to simply get through anything – we are meant to have Joy and enjoy LIFE – the one that is yours, established from the day you were born. Woo-hoo! And get this: even in tough situations, those that give us hardship and pain are part of the JOY – you are alive, and peculiarly so, having the ability to experience it ALL!

For the most part, today’s culture has us looking at a perceived perfect; we compare ourselves to others who seem to have what we don’t; the pressures to perform and compete take over any creativity or spontaneity as we are too burdened with responsibility.

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Yoga makes you, you!

In my estimation, the Lord is good as he’ll give you a circumstance that will help you come full circle, realizing life is for you to use and it is not to use you. Any physical, financial, or emotional crisis will have you reassessing what life’s about anyway. We usually come away from these things with a different perspective and some new lifelong habits, allowing the light of life to shine through again.

But, in my estimation, the Lord is good as he gave us yoga. Thank you, United Nations, for International Day of Yoga! Somewhere, someone noticed that yoga could restore the ultimate view of life’s purpose: to enjoy, not endure. Practice yoga and get, from day one, a little taste of the JOY that is yours. You’ll return to the room fighting for more of that feeling, physically addressing the toxins that have corrupted your body and mind. Bikram will tell you, “If you don’t feel good, that’s all you’ll think about.” Uh, true.

With your body’s natural resources, yoga will restore and replenish all those essentials (remember those vital signs we need) and juice your cells up even more in such a nourishing way. You’ll sleep better and wonder why you are feeling better, and this is enough to keep you coming into the room. Soon, you’ll start to notice behaviors in yourself that aren’t working, and with this newfound courage, you begin to take them on and explore new ways of being.  You’ll meet all this with success. “Yoga makes you, YOU,” Bikram has said countless times. And remember, YOU are full of vitality. A better-performing body leads to a clearer and more aware mind and leads you to make better choices for yourself and others. Your life will have a sense of ease, free of the anxieties you used to have. You are more open with a better sense of presence with those around you.  You’ll feel connected to yourself and others by the barriers you’ve laid down. You’ll notice that not one “thing” in your life changed, yet it ALL changed. And bingo, that’s Vitality; that is YOUR definition of Vitality playing out. You are no longer going through the motions; you are living in that “peculiar” way that can only be YOU!

I hope you can now see this phrase differently: “Vitality is your birthright!” I always loved this phrase Gary Vaynerchuk highlighted years ago, “Your chances of being born at all are, ready, one out of 433 trillion.” Can you believe it? Deep down, we all KNOW that life is not meant to be lived in a mediocre manner, yet that is the life we create when we surround ourselves with so much comfort. Yoga is the opportunity to have it all AND detach from identifying with it all. Instead, you’ll use these wonderful things of the modern 21st century to experience all of life in the ways our DNA was mapped from the beginning.

Yoga gets misunderstood as something you need to be flexible to do, that you need to conquer a good posture to be worthy of a yoga practice, that you have to make time for, that you are too old to do, and so on. Wrong! Yoga is a means to an end – it’s the portal from where you are, which could be very far away from any truth about yourself, to tenderly take you to the you YOU genuinely are – all in the privacy of your yoga practice. Show up – that’s it – and try. YOUR life is waiting to be lived with the Vitality that is your birthright!

Join us on June 21!

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