When people think of yoga as an activity many thoughts arise. There can be dismissal, in that it’s not a real workout as there are beliefs it is “slow” or “easy”. Conversely, there can be thoughts that it is just a workout and nothing more. Some people think you have to be slim and bendy. Others think they are too bendy and wouldn’t need to practice. There are comedy sketches of groups of people cross legged chanting “OM”, and on mountain tops in one position for hours.
My first experience of teaching had me in fits of giggles chanting “OM”. I felt silly and couldn’t quite understand the point. I’ve since learned when you relax, it’s an amazing experience of sound resonating throughout your whole mind and body that connects us to the vibration of the earth. But even if that sounds all too “yogi” like, the feeling of the vibration is extremely calming.
All of these perceptions and thoughts emerge from our ego. The part of us that focuses on the self and the “I”. Spiritually, ego is a veil in our personality that stops us from perceiving our connection to others and the universe. It makes us sense we are separated and denies any sense of universal consciousness. Connecting with the universe as if it is within us and we are a part of it, is the state of being, where awareness and wisdom is thought to dwell.
I first came across yoga many years ago and dipped in and out of practice. I initially felt it wasn’t doing much as I was looking for intense workouts and cardio activity. I then discovered hot yoga, practising in 39 degree heat and humidity and absolutely loved it. I felt I was getting to stretch and improve flexibility and sweat buckets at the same time. I practised this religiously 3-5 times a week, for around 6 years.
During this time, I learnt how to align myself in poses and suddenly what I thought was an easy task, became a test of endurance as I was activating all the correct muscles and had dedicated myself to a regular practice. Although I was spiritual in many ways I would say it took me a few years of regular practice to see beyond my activity on the mat in my practice. It’s really only been since I’ve undertaken teacher training that I’ve fully understood the lifestyle aspect of yoga and the foundation of knowledge it is built upon. I use the word “fully” lightly, as my understanding continues to grow day by day.…and therein lies the excitement of the journey yoga takes us on. Once away from the mind who knows what we will find!