Can you imagine what it would be like to go weeks, months, years, or even decades without brushing your teeth? Gross, right!? Well it wasn't that long ago that Western humans began to routinely brush their teeth. Europeans adopted the practice only after noticing that the elderly of the Asian cultures they were exploring, colonizing, and trading with still had many healthy original adult teeth. The practice slowly made its way into the culture and only became a daily task for most Americans in the early to mid 20th century when World War 2 soldiers returned with toothbrushes in their hygiene kits. So yoga is not the first health ritual import from Asia, and I'm honestly glad tooth-brushing came first.
If you just began tooth-brushing after decades of neglect, some positive effects would be noticed right away, but seeing that food is daily masticated, a routine must be maintained to not only scrub away the layers of accumulation, but also to stop new formations of buildup.
Yoga is the same way. It too is an import from the east and is just now pervading Western society. It is correlated with health and is a habit we want our closest friends and lovers to have. It's also true that a single yoga session - after weeks, months, or years of bodily neglect -will no doubt have a positive impact; but a routine is also necessary if health is the goal. Neglected muscles get weak and tight. Without a routine outlet, stress from life accumulates and settles into our tissues and effects our health. Lung capacity and respiratory efficiency diminishes if we go too long without taking a few consciously deep breaths every now and again. And our ability to balance, both physically and emotionally, will deteriorate over time. A routine of yoga not only releases the stresses and weaknesses of the day, but also reaches back in time to stimulate and pacify old stagnancies and accumulations. And just like we take the time to carefully brush each tooth, so too in yoga should we take the time to stretch and strengthen each muscle and joint. Your whole mouth needs love and so too does your whole body.
So the next time you reach for your toothbrush, use it as a reminder to commit to your yoga as well. Your teeth need routine brushing and your body needs routine yoga, so be sure to make time for both.
Yoga Analogy Series: