I have been practicing Yoga for roughly 15 years and it has changed drastically on the exterior. My first class was taken at an Ashram by true Yogis who lived the practice. Meaning it wasn’t a part-time job or a hobby for them. It wasn’t a way to get in shape, socialize with other moms/dads or show off those pretzel poses. And they didn’t preach or tell you to eat certain foods or live a certain way. They were “guides” to get you to a place where you needed to be.
I clearly remember laying on the mat in Savasana (Corpse Pose-most people’s favorite) at the end of that first class and starting to cry. I wasn’t sad or happy. It was a type of release. A real moment with myself. My job was very demanding and working with children with severe disabilities was taxing on my emotional state. Yoga class was a place where I could go for an hour and fifteen minutes and stretch, center, focus on myself, quiet the mind, meditate and just breathe. I saw a funny picture the other day:Quite true but our intentions of putting aside time in our hectic days to do those things we wish we had more time for, gets lost in the masses. So we need to schedule the time and sometimes go to a place to do that. Without distractions, kids, husbands/wives, TV, phones, computers, noise…you get the point.
There is a huge influx of all things yoga at the moment. Which is great but can also water down the true meaning of yoga. People get caught up in the latest trends and cute outfits but do they really get the meaning behind it all? What it was intended for?
During the “I need to find another career” stage in my life, which I discussed here, I decided to immerse myself in a yoga teacher training program. It lasted a year and followed the Himalayan style. This lineage of teachers is at least 5000 years old, including Swami Rama. I learned and relearned all of the postures (Asanas), had courses on anatomy, discovered Ayerveda, focused on alignment, tried to learn all of the Sanskrit names, practiced meditation and yes – (Pranayama) breathe. I know it seems funny, but learning to breathe properly is something that has helped me tremendously in every facet of my life. And a year still wasn’t enough to learn it all. We just cracked the surface. The best yoga teachers continue to take classes and educate themselves because they are still learning. It is ongoing.
So what is yoga? Aside from the definition found in text, what does it look like? What did I find out in my training and years of practice? Well, it is different for everyone and every body. A student should set their intention (something personal or physical) at the beginning of class and try to get there by the end. Some examples are here.
I do know that it’s definitely not this (for me):
But in their defense it is inspiring and something they should be proud of. I’m just not so sure my body can ever get there. And it’s not important to me to get there. When I take the time to do yoga this is how I want to feel after:
Yes, I live in the Midwest. Beaches are my luxury. After class I want to feel completely relaxed and refreshed. Challenged and stronger. A little more flexible with looser limbs and joints. Energized yet calm. At peace. But in doing all those poses and breathing techniques, Yoga is really about:
But, yea, I am still working on this:
Do you practice Yoga? What does it mean to you? What type is your favorite?