Yoga as a way of life
If you are new to yoga, you may be under the impression that the purpose is to stretch, be flexible, meditate, and relax the mind and body. These are definitely some really good reasons to attend a yoga class. However, it is much more than just what you do on your mat.
A lot of people say “I do yoga” – as if it is an activity, an exercise.
The definition of yoga is connection and oneness with the Universe.
What we really need to start saying is “I live yoga”.
Make this your new affirmation!
So when we are stretching, breathing and meditating on the mat, this represents a small portion of yoga. Being on the mat is a test, a test of the mind, body, and spirit. You are aware of yourself.
It is a time to create new habits, to transform, so that whatever is practised on the mat, can then be applied to real daily life.
You can actually do this with any type of yoga – it is all about your intention.
You may attend a class that is seemingly all about the “workout” – in fact, you may avoid these classes, or only go to these. But guess what? Even this physical type yoga class, can become a test of your inner strength. You can watch your thoughts and be present with yourself in every single sequence. You can learn about yourself and your tendencies, and bring this new awareness into your daily life.
Kundalini yoga is different in that it actually takes you more directly to your core, and in fact, may bring up deeper issues that need to be worked on in daily life. The awareness becomes so strong that you can immediately apply this to your life – whether it be a strong emotion, a thought, or perhaps a shift in perception.
Your reactions on the mat, are usually a representation of how you react in life.
Being in total awareness is the first step. The next step is to release the egos reactions, fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, sadness...and connect to the real Self, to the Universe. Practice this on the yoga mat, then apply it to your life – you are living yoga. The real Self, is not all those attachments. When you “do” yoga, you are learning the art of non-attachment, non-reaction. Notice that thought, maybe “I can’t do this pose”. Notice that feeling – maybe anxiety. Ask yourself where this is coming from. Most likely it is an attachment to something or someone.
Living yoga means letting go of all these attachments, and being one with all life and the universe. Loving yourself and life, no matter how harsh things might seem out there. Being still – being aware – being at peace – within.
Use each and every moment in your yoga class to achieve the real essence of yoga.
A beautiful example of living yoga is when I was in Bali. I remember the pure energy of the people who lived there. I was in a yoga class, while someone was sweeping very loudly just outside the space. I felt myself starting to react, annoyed. Then I realized, they don’t see it is a bothersome noise, because they are so present in the moment of life, they would not let such a noise affect them if they were in my position. They are so at peace with themselves, that they don’t let such small, insignificant things, bother them. They are just simply happy. This is true yoga.
Elvira is a Licensed Naturopathic Doctor and Certified Yoga Instructor. She combines her knowledge of the naturopathic modalities with mind-body therapy, yoga, ayurveda, exercise, and energy healing.