“Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
The true meaning of Yoga is to foster a union between the body, mind and spirit, bringing together the 5 senses with the intention of developing a state of being that promotes the light of the Divine to be ever present. Yoga began as a sacred spiritual practice and unfortunately has evolved throughout time to one that is based solely in the physical with aspects of the spiritual becoming obsolete.
People often say “I can’t make my body bend that way” or “I’m not flexible enough to perform yoga”. I could write a book on the statements I have heard over the many years as a yoga instructor.
Yoga is solely based on intention, and it is that intention that gives way to healing the body, mind and the spirit in a perfect union known as “Yoga”.
Yoga is less about the perfection of asana (the pose), and more of bringing the body and the mind together to address the imbalances albeit physical or emotional together. Yoga gives way to aspects of meditation, of personal fulfillment, and an internal fire known as “Prana”. This life force energy fuels the body to move in a way that incorporates postures with breath work, which in turns delivers a stillness to the mind.
I have experienced various stages of accomplishment through my life as both a yogini and as a teacher of yoga. I initially began the practice as a way to heal, to focus, to strengthen both the body and the mind not realizing that my spirit would also become part of the equation. I have healed through various injuries, physical and emotional upheavals, and been at stages where I was not even able to touch my toes bending over. On the other end of the spectrum I have been very accomplished with the ability to challenge both the physical and the mental aspects of the asanas to achieve tremendous feats.
No Snobbery, Just community
In today’s world of yoga selfies, the clothing, the yoga snobbery, and mainstream perception of what yoga is; it has become off putting to many that could actually benefit from a daily or bi-weekly practice. The aforementioned things are mere symptoms of a grander scale of everything that yoga truly is NOT. It’s unfortunate that the societal views and perceptions of today has jaded and even wronged those who could truly heal through a consistent practice. The mainstream views the practice of yoga as more of an extreme sport rather that a personal journey inward. This is largely because of the watered down- assembly line structure of yoga studio’s, perceived correlations to religious Dogma , and the misconception through poor teaching of what yoga is (or in this case, isn’t). I would image all the great Guru’s that gave yoga it’s roots in the Western culture would be in a state of disbelief and perhaps even disdain if they saw what has become of their sacred teachings and the relationship between that of the guru and his/her student.
Because I have experienced true physical and emotional setbacks with the reality of life that often takes a left turn (not always for the better), I have embarked upon yoga as it was taught from its inception.
This is also how I prefer to teach. I understand the mechanics of the human body and the integral part this plays with a person’s physical structure and also their sense of safety and connectedness within a posture or meditative principles. I teach in a way that will understand not just the posture and how to get into and out of it safely without injury, but the areas within the body, mind and spirit it is reaching. This in turn, promotes a deep connection to a life of consistent growth and healing among a long list of other benefits.
People often begin their practice in a weakened, fragile state. I have witnessed first hand the exact nature and manner of those truly helped by yoga and the tremendous growth that is a subsequent result. Without the asana selfies, the snobbery or the competitive aspects, one is personally empowered to experience the true essence of the sacred teachings, as I have experienced; and developed their own union that is fostered by an individualized practice.
Yoga is meant to be a personal journey of self discovery and the healing aspects comes automatically sometimes quick and immediate, while other times change and spiritual connection evolves over time . It’s yoga practice; there is no such things as yoga perfection! Postures are broken down based on your anatomy, as such, you will grow within that asana each and every time you practice it. A forward bending posture (for example) may look entirely different from one person to the next based on your intricate anatomy.
Your practice is uniquely yours and no one else’s
Your practice begins with developing the tools required to breathe, quiet the mind and be skillful while working with your body that has gotten you through life thus far. Things such as “being present and mindful” comes with the right asana, the right mudras and the most fundamental aspects of breath work.
At times, I experienced days where my practice came rather effortless; while other times the only thing I could do is simply breathe. Sometimes this is all we can do while overcoming health obstacle and injuries. It taught me to let go of self judgement ( a big one) as stated in the “Yamas” of the Yoga sutra. Simply put, yoga teaches one to deal both how the feelings in the body, to address the monkey chatter in the mind and allow their spirit to connect all three on the path of healing and enlightenment. Yoga as a way of life means integrating the principles of yoga into your thoughts, words and actions; it means taking yoga beyond the confines of the yoga mat.
A Moving Meditation
Yoga is a form called a moving meditation because it encompasses breath work, concentration and asana. Regardless of your athletic level or limitations, anyone can embark upon the journey of healing through this ancient practice.
This is truly a personalized practice that has absolutely nothing to do with picture perfect postures. It is an enlightened state of being that will adapt to wherever you are in life. It is a beautiful union of body, mind and spirit where your yoga mat becomes the direct route to your souls destiny. The transformation that takes place in those who follow their souls remarkable journey on the yoga mat is one that will inevitably transfer throughout other areas of life when off of the yoga mat. Yoga is a way of life as characterized by the yoga sutras and the eight limbs of yoga as written by Patanjali; much like a manual of standard operating procedures for your life’s yogic path.
In closing, just remember that your true yoga practice is sacred to you as the practitioner and is not to be judged by anyone. This is your safe place to heal, to become enlightened and live in a manner which is defined by the true nature of Yoga in its most simplistic form.