What a lovely festive break I had. Making space for myself, my friendships, family & my practice. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day routine & not realise how much time has passed since we have indulged in those things that bring us joy. One of those things for me is attending classes. I have my own practice but I love to be taught. The indulgent of not having to think but just to move & breathe, exploring how I feel from the inside out. Every class teaches me something! I know that for many people we arrive at a yoga class thinking it is about bending & flexible hamstrings. However it is soooo much more than just a physical practice. In fact the asana, the physical postures, are just one part of a practice designed to help quieten the mind away from unnecessary suffering. The practice of yoga is so much more than just making shapes, but let’s start with turning up on your yoga mat & focusing on your breath.
Yoga recognises the mind as being both the source and the solution to our problems (Desikacher, 2003). In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras the idea of stilling and clearing the mind, and thus perception is discussed. How we see the world can become more clear with the practice of yoga. However like everything, our mind will often come up with so many reasons why yoga may not be a good idea today. These obstacles may include factors such as sickness and rigidity of mind, doubt and lack of conviction and laziness and self-delusion. Or just a really comfortable warm sofa on a cold, windy dark night. Upay;, the means suggested to work on these obstacles include cultivating actions such as a certain attitude and working with the exhale. The first chapter in the Yoga Sutra can be seen as a call for the student to work with their mind, accepting that obstacles to their progress may arise but that faith and surrender to isvara and utilising certain techniques, upaya, can maintain the students movement toward samadhi and clarity of mind. Just by turning up on your mat, focusing on your breath may make you more aware of other parts of your life that are getting easier too. So I ask of you this year, to make more time for you, maybe spend some of that on a yoga mat, focusing on Ujjayi breath & maybe explore some of the other parts of yoga too. I am always happy to recommend books or where to study.
One thing I love so much about studying yoga is the realisation that the practice works with all those things that I used to feel were my problem alone. The easily distracted mind, the lack of conviction or just being in a lazy unmotivated mood. I love how the practice just requires you to turn up on your yoga mat to improve your life on so many levels. After teaching yoga through three decades I have had the pleasure of watching so many students grow into happier more content people just by turning up regularly on their mat. I have observed others, who like me first came to a yoga class for a more comfortable physical body, went on to study the practice more indepth. I talked about the Serenity Prayer in a recent blogs & I will continue to explore some of the ideas that the Sanskrit terms imply.
To start with I would like to introduce Ujjay breathing with the next blog……