Meaningful Movement: the doorway to joyful living

Across the globe, there are longevity zones —places where a large percentage of the population are centenarians. In these regions elders are looked up to and respected. But they share another trait; they have a reason for being.

In Japan this is called ikigai (ee-key-guy). Ikigai sits at the crossroads of what you love and are good at, and what the world needs and is willing to pay for.


A more personal definition is that ikigai is what gets you out of bed each morning. Its what makes you feel alive, motivates you, gives you purpose and brings you joy.

Looking Within

Most people come to yoga for a physical reason, perhaps to diminish back pain or increase flexibility. Along the way, however, a discovery occurs. The deeper presence within is unveiled.

Yoga’s highest purpose is to uncover, unite with and celebrate this wise inner presence. The poses merely facilitate the process of looking within by calming the mind and easing physical pain.

With a calm mind the wise inner council can be heard. With less pain more joy can be felt. With yoga, the doorway to ikigai is open.

Warrior One pose at Hot Creek, outside Mammoth Lakes, CA —©minaretphoto

While yoga may not suddenly reveal your next career move, it will provide a place to know yourself better. As relationship with self improves, the voice of what brings you alive and gives you purpose becomes more clear.

The Vehicle of Consciousness

If yoga postures are about looking at the body, yoga breath is about listening to it.

If moving the body involves minute detail, moving the breath involves great expansiveness.

If the body helps us feel, the breath helps us know.

If the body helps us be present, the breath helps us feel Presence.

If the body means action, the breath means purpose.

And yet we are at the intersection of both. The breath is the vehicle of Consciousness that weaves together the fabric of the body with all the elements of self: intelligence, spirit, wisdom, heart, purpose…


Purpose Driven, Not Pose Driven

So what if we put ikigai together with the breath?

Maybe it would look like this:

Take your seat on the mat. Close your eyes and contemplate what it is that gets you out of bed in the morning, alive, excited and ready to participate in life? That’s your ikigai and intention for the practice.

Take gradually deepening breaths around this intention that is alive within you.

Start to move, letting the breath lead the way. {Breathe first, move second}. Feel the pauses of stillness between each breath when you are empty of impediments or full of possibility.

As you take the form of a pose ask yourself: If this pose were to reflect my ikigai, my passion to do my work in the world, would it look different than it does now?

With each breath, infuse purpose into your postures, take yourself one step closer to the joy of doing what you were called here to do.





Join Paisley at the Creative Experience in San Diego, CA for a day long retreat merging art, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, creativity, and ceremony.

August 11th, 10 am-5 pm (with one hour lunch break)

All art supplies included.

Click the image for more info.


Tickets available here: