Over time, our practice can help cultivate a deeper understanding about what we need and how we need to look after ourselves. When to move, when to be more passive. When to challenge ourselves, when to be more compassionate and gentle. What to put into the body, and what to put out.
Yoga is not an anti-aging product, nor is it an anti-aging therapy. But, a case can be made that is an effective and credible strategy for becoming and staying healthy, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I started to need Yoga on a daily basis. I started partying less and drinking less. I listened to my body more. Yoga enabled me to tap into the Inner Source within myself. Moving through the postures breath by breath, moment by moment, helped me to listen to what my heart and soul were saying to me.
From the pronking of a gazelle to the waddle of a penguin, each creature carries the history of a few million years of evolution, evolving from cellular solution to matter in ever more elegant and sophisticated patterns. The human is the single bipedal creature. This evolutionary push has given us tremendous advantage, particularly with the use of our upper limbs. As we all re-enact this upright maneuver when we learn to walk, there is a tremendous developmental brain push and corresponding body mapping. Yet as we move away from rolling on our belly and up to the vertical discovery of walking, we can sometimes lose our connection to the earth.
I would uncover some unknown part of me and sit with myself in awe, learning to love it, or at least understand and accept what was. I began to see the beauty and purpose in even the flawed parts of me I would have normally hidden away from view. I had inadvertently fallen into a state of grace via 30 minutes of morning yoga.
Contempt for the body, based on its supposedly corrupt, limited and limiting nature is deep in the heart of our culture. And despite the popularity of Yoga posture practice, this also lies deep in the unconscious shadows of contemporary Yoga practitioners. This contempt drives us from its unrecognized depths not only to long for a life after death, to imagine an eternal soul, but also to use and abuse the body in seeking those and other delusional goals, such as physical perfection or moral purity.
If you practice Yoga, inquire of yourself: Why am I choosing this teacher to guide me? Maybe you have no idea whether he/she is skilled. Maybe the time works for your schedule. Maybe the quality or safety of the class doesn't matter to you. You still should ask. If you're considering enrolling in a teacher training, ask yourself: Why do I want to take this course with these teachers at this studio? If you're a Yoga teacher or studio owner, ask yourself: Why do I want to teach? Why do I want to run a 200-hour course? There is no right or wrong answer. The point is: We should all be digging deep. Or, as we yogis say, it's time to practice self-study, a.k.a. Svadhyaya.
This was the message about forgetting expectations, precision and perfection, and always needing to be accomplishing something. After all, we are human beings not human doings. And in this present moment, I just needed to be. I needed to release and surrender to the ebb and flow of life.
Yoga and meditation have been a huge part of my long-term sobriety. However, I believe this is applicable to anyone who wants to begin a Yoga practice. We all have difficulties in life. The practice of mindfulness is beneficial to everybody.
Yoga is not a problematic discipline.
Practice, and all is coming is a fair description and mantra of what it is. However, sometimes there are disconnects between what it is and what it is made out to be. Bikram Yoga is emblematic of some of those problems.
1. Bikram Teacher Training Guide: “Do not wear green.”
According to Bikram Choudhury, green is an unlucky color and is banned from all his studios. “Please try to avoid the color green. Don’t ask, just try.”
Problem: Green signifies rebirth and growth. The Green Man of pre-Christianity was a symbol of fertility. Among Muslims, it is a holy color. In Ireland, it is a lucky color. However, circus and traveling showmen in Australia do consider green to be bad luck.
2. “How many Rolls Royces do I own? I don’t know. 35?” said Bikram Choudhury.
Bikram Choudhury owns many Rolls...
When we begin to practice self-love in our lives, we slowly become aware of how we talk to ourselves, and rather than being judgmental, we can bring both kindness and compassion into that internal dialogue.
Yet it was clear as the dawn after a storm. As she linked her breath with these therapeutic movements, this kind voice stayed with her more and more consistently, and rather than question the whys or the hows just yet, she decided to do what it took for this voice to speak up more.
My teen years were hellish and I received messages on a regular basis of how I wasn't good enough. Like anything that is played over and over again, a groove became imprinted in my psyche that put me in a loop of that feeling. Moving myself out seemed a task that couldn't be accomplished, and then my spiritual journey went into full force and I found my way.
Can we stop embracing this pseudo-new stereotype of a woman whose focus is her looks, her softness, her ability to not make waves? How can we encourage all of the bad-asses to stand up off of their Yoga mats and be heard and trust that they are still yogis?
When we feel internally tired from life's fluctuations, the defenses of the ego are down. We no longer think about being that rock-star Yoga teacher with perfect clothes, precise wording, and majorly inspiring sequences. We are simply here, human and vulnerable.
Yoga will hold up a mirror while you thrash and kick at the reflection until you bleed on every last shred of glass and then let you pick out the shards, piece by piece, forcing you to have intimate contact with your wounds and see who you really are over and over.
I knew because of the way I felt and the emotions I was receiving, I had harnessed something special. The spirit called me and I knew I had to learn more about Yoga. I wanted to learn about Pranayama, chakras, divine callings, asanas, heart openers, tradition and mantras. I didn't know if I wanted to be a Yoga teacher but I knew I wanted to delve deep into the practice; I just wanted to live life, experience life, live the journey, not worry about the destination. This is really what living is about, right?