When I was younger, I always thought yoga meant something that is a slow, boring, easy way of exercise that does not require a lot of effort or energy from your body; no highly visible physical changes can be done with it as opposed to weight lifting; and it does not make you sweat like a good HIIT session. So, what is the point of doing it at all? For stretching? Well, after each weight session or cardio workout, you do a couple of minutes of stretching and you are done. However, as I got more experienced, more self – aware and started to shift my mindset around to find my path and purpose in life, I have realised that I could not have been more wrong about yoga and the way I was thinking of it.
I am not denying the fact that when I went to my very first class in London, it was due to the most popular reason why others would start practicing it. At the beginning of my relationship with yoga, I was looking at it as a form of physical exercise that is very, very popular and need to be done if you want to seem “fashionable”. The more I went to the classes, the more I enjoyed them, though. But it was still not for the right reasons for me. I fell in love with the more challenging, difficult poses that the teacher made seem like the easiest and most natural thing to do. That led me to the determination that I have to practise yoga so that one day, I will be able to flow into a crow pose so graciously and effortlessly as my teacher. BUT the more conscious I was becoming, the more I got to see the real purpose of yoga for me. And it became more deepened when I went to Bali to get my Yoga Instructor Certification.
But, we are all different. We are wanting different things, we are having different perspectives on the same situation, we are all having different priorities in our lives. So, it is natural that, when we are talking about yoga, it will have different meanings, as well to each and every one of us.
There are people out there who are enjoying yoga for the purpose of physical exercise. They are the ones who are going to classes to move and shake their bodies, to stretch those hamstrings, to get leaner and stronger, to tick the box of “do some sort of activity today”. They care about challenging poses, focusing on “finally being able to do that split”, getting a good sweat on and having their heart rate up.
The second group of people who are practising yoga are doing so because they are the “anatomy gurus”. They are the ones who are going deep within the physical body and try to understand how each pose affects your physicality, what muscles, and ligaments are affected in that particular asana and whether or not they are good for you or not. They are explaining to you that occasionally doing certain poses are fine but keep going deeper and deeper into the pose eventually will have a negative effect on your physicality because you are trying to bend too far in that backbend that is not natural nor suitable for the spine. Or avoid doing Hero pose because no actual health benefit to it apart from you ruining your knee joints and ligaments. So why on Earth would you want to do that?
The third reason why someone is interested in practising yoga, is the true, original, deep, and ancient reason. And that is my reason, as well.
As you all know, I am sure by now, the word “Yoga” itself means to be connected, to unite. It is the art, the science of harmonising, uniting the body, the mind with our True Self, with who we really are, with the Living Force. The mind and the physical body are the always changing elements in this union. Your physical body in the present is not the same as it was when you were an infant, a child, a teenager nor the same as it was maybe a year ago. The same is with the mind. The things you were thinking and believing are not the same things in your present. You changed them as you were growing up, as you experienced more and more. It might be that you were having a belief about something, you were thinking about a certain situation with a certain mindset but, due to external or internal forces, you might have changed it around. It is the True Self only, that is changeless, everlasting and who is witnessing these always ongoing changes in our body and in our mind. When the mind and the body are in harmony with the Soul, when we awaken the True Self, we get to see our true nature who is a Being of Love and Light. It cares about others, it respects and feels compassion towards other human beings. You see everything as divine property, as the same energy as you are, see other living beings as the child of the same living force that you are. You see all as equal. When you harmonise the body – mind – Self, the voice of your intuition gets clearer and you will follow what it tells you. You will start making decisions based on that intuition, you will start becoming more aware, awaken and conscious. You will start feeling what is right and what is wrong for you, for your Self. You will start finding your purpose and working towards fulfilling it. All this, by using one of the tools that help you to experience these beautiful things, practising yoga.
To me, it started as a fashionable way of exercising, got more invested in it to be able to do the seemingly easily done poses but it deepened and become so much more that those things. It became my life, it became who I am, I have found myself in it, I have found the connection, the union, and I became true to (my)Self. And that is an extraordinary, beautiful experience to have and that, I am hoping, one day, you will get to experience (your)Self, as well. And that is the reason why I am doing what I am doing now. To help you unfold to the person you were always meant to.
As you see, there are different ways of looking at yoga and why one starts practising it. It does not matter if it is all about shaping your body to you or you are stepping on that mat to feel the sensations of your body and understand the ways certain body parts are affected in each pose. Or, if yoga means spirituality and a way to enlightenment for you, that is beautiful, as well. None is better than the other, none is more important than the other. As I said, we are all different, we are all at different stages in our journey, we are all having different purpose in life and different experiences. We all do things for different reasons and that is how it should be. The most important thing is that no matter why you are doing whatever it is you are doing, why you are practising yoga; stay true to (your)Self, do it for You, do it because it gives you joy, energy and the feeling of fulfilment.