“Yoga is the calming of the changing state of the mind”
These are the words I’ve heard most during my Yoga teacher training with Conscious Yoga Academy on Karpathos, Greece. Well, these and “slowly, slowly”, but that’s an inside joke, so never mind.
20 days flew by. It’s like I just got here, but after having lived here all my life.
You know what I mean?
As if this is the place where everything started and now I came back to close the circle.
Bottom line is, few things in my life felt as right as being here does.
Self vs. Ego
It was a struggle, just like between Smeagle and Gollum — between my ego and my Self. That Self which remained intact ever since I was conceived, which remained stable in spite of its surroundings. The teacher asked us to connect with that Self, with that I, to feel it. And eventually I did. (At some point I even felt what it was like to be a seed in my mother’s womb, but that’s probably a conversation for this time next year. Or ten years.)
My ego put up a fight in the beginning against all the things it couldn’t explain and against letting go of everything it had identified with. I don’t blame it. It’s what kept this body alive for 32 years.
And after all, if there’s no struggle, how will you ever be able to recognise and appreciate peace?
So, now that I feel perfectly at ease with my life and myself (which might be placebo, autosuggestion, heat stroke or whatever — it doesn’t really matter, ’cause it’s amazing a.f.), let me share some things I’ve learnt about what we call Yoga.
What is Yoga?
I bet that when you think of Yoga, the first thing that comes to your mind is a white, flexible young lady in a jaw dropping, foot around the neck pose wearing fancy leggings and a sexy top. Come on, now, just admit it. It’s fine. That’s what all kinds of media tell us, no judgement whatsoever.
Lucky for you, I’m here to let you in on a little secret: that’s precisely what yoga ain’t!
Yoga isn’t a series of poses beautiful people do to stretch their already gorgeous bodies. Yoga isn’t down dog, head stand or camel pose. These are elements of the practice, sure, but:
Yoga is the calming of the changing state of the mind.
Yoga is a philosophy. A way of life. It teaches you how to interact with yourself and others, be they people, animals, plants or material things. It gives you tools to connect with yourself beyond your programmed condition, beyond your roles as a daughter/son, mother/father, wife/husband, citizen, schoolteacher, engineer, historian etc. It guides you to your essence, which is supposed to be divine.
And this is why Yoga isn’t a religion. It doesn’t see the divine above or beyond, but inside you. In the essence of all beings and all things.
What does that mean for you?
It means that you can practice yoga anywhere, anytime no matter how old, strong, flexible, confident you are.
Yoga is doing right by yourself and others through compassion; it’s closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for a couple of moments; it’s coming back to yourself, observing your thoughts and feelings and not identifying with them. It’s being able to let them go. To not be defined by things outside of your Self.
And how do you reach that Self?
Don’t get too excited, there’s no easy way to it, because it takes what you dread most: practice. It involves creating new habits — especially the habit of being aware, of staying present, of catching yourself in the midst of a thought or an action you’ll probably end up regretting. It takes replacing old patterns and most of all, it takes time and a whole lot of patience.
It takes changing your words, so you can change your thoughts, ergo your feelings, your actions and eventually your destiny.
So, yeah … Good luck with that! 🙂
(Just kidding, don’t worry, I’m here to help!)
I used to be a fixer, a control freak, a millennial woman with great ambitions and little self-esteem. Now I just am. And it’s marvellous! I teach Zumba, Pound and Yoga; I read, write, travel and do my best to enjoy life. Follow to hop in for the ride! Instagram: andra.cd View all posts by andra.cd
Originally published at http://mollyhund.home.blog on August 14, 2020.