“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” – Jack London

So – who are you when nobody is watching? Are you the same person? Are you authentic? Are you living your life, or just existing?

Recently, I was walking to yoga, and I walked briskly past the local Walmart on my way to the studio, listening to my music, and simply enjoying the feel of the muscles in my legs working, the breeze ruffling through my hair, and the simplicity of just being alive. I found myself smiling genuinely and feeling completely content, comfortable, sure about who I am and knowing that despite my health problems life is pretty good. I found myself thinking back to a year ago, when I could not even walk past that same Walmart to get to the yoga studio, because I was so bent over in pain, hanging on for dear life to my cane – with a painful smile plastered to my face, existing.

I can definitely say that I feel that I am living my life now – not just existing. And it feels good, free, authentic.

One year – two very different end points, from existing to living, thanks to the life transforming power of adopting a yoga practice and accompanying lifestyle. (I know, I know – obnoxious yogi on the loose again, you’re thinking, eh?) Yoga was, and is, my tool to living my life fully, deeply. It has brought me a sense of personal control and a regained sense of independence and deep self-awareness (among so many other benefits). I recently discovered Iyengar Yoga as a therapeutic tool, and it is teaching me gobs about body alignment and how to break out of bad alignment habits we have that we are not even aware of. More information and a tool to use as I manage my health and live my life to the fullest that I can.

Life is what we make of it – from the struggles to the successes; from finding the courage inside to face a fear, to dealing with it; from closing yourself off from people and possibilities, to opening your heart to new possibilities, new passions, new opportunities. Sometimes we get there on our own, sometimes we have help along the way. Life may be long or short,  intense or tragic, sad or happy, or a mix-mash of everything at various times.

No matter what – life is what WE make of it. The key is finding the tools to help you live, rather than simply exist.

“The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them …” – Michel de Montaigne