When I stumbled into this world of yoga it was in the form of a pregnancy yoga class, at this point the deeper side of yoga really wasn’t on my radar. However, over the years I have delved deeper and deeper into the history, philosophy and spirituality of this ancient Indian tradition and practice.
Ultimately the Yogis goal is to reconnect with the higher state of consciousness. The idea that there is this universal sea of intelligence which sits way beyond time, space and form. It is from this sea that the soul emerges before it takes form in our human being and where it returns to when it leaves our human being. The Yogis use meditation as a way to try and tap back into this higher state, and the tools of Yoga (i.e. asana and pranayama) as a way of preparing the body and mind for this practice of meditation.
Now I have the absolute utmost respect for this spiritual practice. But do I think that as human beings we should be spending endless hours sitting in meditation trying to reconnect with this higher plane? … No I don’t – this may surprise some as I refer to myself as a Yogi … I am not saying here that I don’t believe in this higher state, or that I don’t believe that we need to have an understanding of it and an awareness to it, because I do indeed think that we all need to acknowledge that we are part of a much bigger concept. But what I am saying is that I don’t think that as Westerns, as human beings of this century, that we can only say we practice Yoga or call ourselves Yogis if we are willing to sit for hours in Meditation trying to connect to a higher state. I think we can use the techniques of meditation and yoga that these ancient yogis from Indian shared with the world, in order to better our lives as human beings of today’s world. We can use them to heal ourselves on a physical, emotional and mental level in order to enable us to reach our full potential and therefore live our lives as human beings to the fullest and to achieve great things which will bring us happiness and freedom, and that will also bring happiness and freedom to generations to come.
Find a way of practising Yoga and Meditation that works for you. Be mindful though that the practice of yoga is a science and a technology. We don’t just throw out random movements because they look good! There is a precision to the Asanas which needs to be respected in order for you to benefit from them in the way the Yogis intended. Practice with a qualified, experienced and skilful yoga teacher. Explore the different traditions and find one that resonates with you. Yoga is not a HIIT class! Yoga is a process, a journey … don’t focus on the end product. For example, if you are working towards Headstand, don’t focus on the end goal of balancing on your head, instead enjoy all the benefits which come from the practice of building up to this posture, and eventually all the benefits you receive when you can finally achieve the Asana. The postures should be steady, stable and strong – just as we want the mind to be 🙂