A little muse on REAL Yoga…
Yoga was developed not for the “strong, flexible/bendy body” that is so often portrayed in the media, but to prepare you for seated meditation; easing out the kinks and knots, the tightness that develops through daily life, we are better able to sit still, in comfort. Equally, through movement and the breath, we still the mind, let go of inner chatter, are calmer, more observant and certainly better at being “in the here and now”. This calmness, through practise, becomes inner stillness – which in turn allows us to glimpse, experience and rest in our inner nature, or true self.
It is for us as individuals to learn what that means – and to find our own inner wisdom or “guru”. But don’t despair if that monkey mind is still going at a rate of knots…or you can’t touch your toes or hold a balance…it’s all about gentle progress along with “Ahimsa” – do no harm; so we work gently, with what the body and mind can do, and listen deeply to what our body tells us, rather than the mind pushing us through old patterns and beliefs.
This is my own personal journey and experience; to let go of what I want to do, to pause, breathe and allow my body to guide me. How close to the ‘edge’ is right for me to go today? Can I challenge myself to go into a stronger posture (asana), or invite myself to stop pushing, soften, surrender, and be gentle with myself? Not always easy!
Having been so ill with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) some years ago, it was gentle yoga that supported me through that time – but in truth the “super strong” yoga I could do is still beyond me – and the silver lining of that, is learning time and again how to be kind to myself; to honour and respect what I can do, and to transfer that learning to the students in my yoga for wellbeing classes.
Do I ever get frustrated and resist “what is”? Yes! I am, after all, only human. But each time that happens, it is another opportunity to accept myself and the situation in its entirety – the frustration, the resistance, maybe the grief as my body won’t do what it used to do…but doesn’t that comes to us all eventually?
And another silver lining is that my teaching is rooted in my personal experience – supported and guided by professional training in positive psychology, resilience tools, and (underpinning that), counselling and psychotherapy which enables me to listen deeply to others. I know first hand the Power of Slow – slowing down, synchronising movement with breath, listening to the body, being alongside whatever the monkey mind throws our way (it’s all ‘stories’!) Creating the spaciousness we all need to soothe the mind and the body, to invite the parasympathetic nervous system back into balance, to “rest and digest” and boost the immune system.
Real yoga is a journey of remembering who you are; underneath all that busyness, the mental chatter, the negative beliefs about ourselves…there is a wholeness, a beauty, and a deep well of inner peace that we can touch and rest in…
Have I struggled with this? Of course! But through my different practises, like a perfect spiral, I am drawn back to, and in to the Heart of Life itself – and you can be too.
Go well – remember to breathe well, and be gentle with yourselves.