The Way of the Yogin.
“Our essential nature is boundless consciousness. We are rooted in it when the mind focuses and settles.” ~ Yoga Sutras 1.3
In our information age, there are many definitions for what Yoga is, and this is fine. It is whatever the experience it brings to you.
Before it was influenced or appropriated by the West — having been stripped down to an exercise program in many cases — Yoga was, going back to the Vedas, primarily an internal practice leading to self-awakening and realization.
I believe there’s a difference between those who ‘attend Yoga classes’ and the ‘yogin’, and the difference lies in the individual’s aim, intention, purpose and calling.
Through self-surrender and conscious presence, the yogin is able to transmute fear and self-doubt into faith and self-belief. The yogin is she who fights for truth and justice, upholding dharma, unafraid to experience herself authentically.
I believe the yogin, just like the martial artist, is another embodiment of the warrior archetype.
It takes the endurance of the warrior to confront what arises in the stillness of the present moment. For us sensitive souls who have fought many battles, the process of feeling and witnessing our emotional body is often an unpleasant experience. But our main task is to ‘show up’ to ourselves for any kind of healing or transformation to occur.
“Yoga is not just repetition of few postures — it is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life.” ~ Amit Ray
By opening to stillness and observing our breath, we activate an inner portal.
At the threshold of stillness and breath, the feminine awakens.
This is the subtle body, our feelings and emotions, our source of power. What fills this portal is Shakti, our vitality and life essence.
On the periphery of this opening, our repressed memories, emotions and trauma are given space to rise to the surface of our consciousness, allowing us an opportunity to experience them fully. The next step is to feel (for feeling is where the healing is) and the one after that is to communicate with these energies.
I believe that sitting still is not enough for transformation to take place, other practices like journaling and art-making in conjunction, offer more tangible ways to harvest from and heal deeply embedded wounds.
Indeed, the yogin’s path is the same as the warrior’s, for remaining present with our shadows, our pain and grief, requires one who is strong of spirit and brave of heart.
Yoga practice therefore creates space when before there wasn’t any. Amidst conscious presence we become aware of the many illusions or ‘maya‘ that the mind is gripped by. The advice I often hear to ’empty the mind’ isn’t really a practical idea because the mind’s very nature is to move.
Watching the mind and opening to the awareness of our moving breath is, I believe, a more authentic practice.
After becoming a Yoga teacher, I noticed a significant improvement in my martial arts training — which is really a training for life! The fighting arts show us how to handle chaos, overwhelm, ‘lack of time’, lack of boundaries and fatigue, issues which affect us sensitive souls and problems that represent our shadows; the dark feminine — those emotions we resist but which carry the medicine we seek.
Regular Yoga practice nonetheless enhanced the connection between my mind, body and breath; my kung fu forms became ‘cleaner’ — the outer clarity of my movements reflected the inner clarity gained through discernment of my many layers… mind, body, emotions and spirit. It was as if a secret door had been unlocked through the consistent witnessing of my breath.
Yoga also played a role in healing my psychosomatic back injury caused by long-term narcissistic abuse. But the practice itself isn’t always enough to provide complete healing and transformation. A fusion of Yoga, qigong, writing, art therapy and other resources combined accelerated my own healing process.
I believe in doing what works for your own mind and body. And as in Hindu thought, there is not one path, there are many paths and you choose what is authentic and true to your own nature.
As a highly sensitive person, all of these embodiment practices served my innate creative need, and it is through creativity that I heal.
As a sensitive soul, perhaps you experience a similar need?
Yoga philosophy acknowledges our multidimensional existence, that our being comprises of many layers or ‘koshas‘, the basics of which are the mental body, the physical body, the emotional body and the spiritual body. Unfolding to the experience of each of these layers is essential for our health and well-being.
I do recommend physical Yoga practice or ‘hatha‘ as it is called, as it is important to communicate with our physical body by routinely moving and stretching it.
Our body contains its own wisdom, we only need to learn how to interact with it to become our own source of healing.
Again, Yoga practice isn’t always enough. Harvesting from the physical body through writing and art-making takes us deeper into the wisdom that it’s trying to share with us. Listening to our body, feeling where the tension lies, and then taking right action (Karma Yoga) helps transform stuck and stagnant energies.
I believe in having a home practice. Yoga is a personal experience after all!
Even before my Yoga teacher training, I barely attended Yoga classes. But I’ve always committed to a daily self-practice, and created and followed a sequence in tune with what my body needs, even when it’s been a practice of just five minutes!
For us empaths, taking just five minutes a day to ground our awareness and emotions is important for helping us focus on ourselves and not getting caught up in other people’s agendas. It’s great for maintaining healthy boundaries and for practicing self-loyalty. Regular Yoga practice therefore helps us remove internal and external obstacles from our path. The key is to take action. To practice.
Is it time for you to commit to your own self-practice?
Ultimately, the main characteristic of the yogin is not only that she shows up in however she is or feels — she practices! As K. Pattabhi Jois says, “Do your practice and all is coming.”
Whenever you become paralyzed by mental stories and emotional pain, your tiredness or fatigue, that is a signal that you’ve become disembodied and disconnected from your four levels of being.
Come back to your roots, root into your whole Self. Practice Yoga, which is the practice of coming home.
Payal Patel is a writer, a Yoga teacher and a martial artist. Her path is to help women cultivate Shakti — creative warrior energy. She coaches sensitive souls seeking to heal their inner Feminine, guiding them through their Shero’s journey, and helping them reclaim their power, to gain clarity, integrate mind, body and spirit, and experience the change and focus they need to move forward with presence and power. Get her free Sensitive Warrior bundle to get started. Or book a one-on-one online session here. Join Payal’s private Facebook group Warrior Training for the Sensitive Soul for a writing challenge starting soon! Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.