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Serenity Prayer and Yoga

Just the other day I read a short blog regarding the extent of the yoga practice. As I read it, the Serenity prayer came to mind. I am going to guess that you have read or heard this prayer more than once in your life. No matter if you have any affiliation to Christianity or not. Personally I have seen it in many places over the years, never actually looking for it. It goes something like this:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.”

I have now learned it was written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the early 1930’s and that it has been adopted and popularized by AA and other twelve-step programs.

I never took much time to reflect on this prayer, didn’t even think of it as a prayer, but on the other hand, I always related to the words. I certainly have had just the same wish myself,  to have the courage to change what I can change for the better, and to find a way to accept what I can’t change. Which happens to be exactly what the yoga practice helps us to do.

Yoga is a practice of self study. The simple act of observing and reflecting on what we think, do and say. This is done through posture practice, breathing practice and other forms of meditation. We observe our habits in our bodies, learn about the choices we have and therefore get to see what we can change. The same goes with our breathing habits and the habits of our thinking mind. This awareness then spills into our lives off the mat. We come to see what is possible to change and what is not, what we have to work with just the way it is. The practice gives us the tools  to be courageous as well as the ability to put down what is not for us to carry. To relax and stop banging our heads against the wall. That, is all yoga.