You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.
I love this.
In the yoga sutras, the most acknowledged text about yoga, Patanjali states about 2000 years ago the yoga path, the so called ’eight limbs’:
- Yama (self discipline)
- Niyama (self observation)
- Asana (posture)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (withdraw of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (contemplation)
All of them together is what yoga is made of. What we usually call yoga nowadays is asana, the physical part, but it’s just one of 8. Sometimes we add a bit of pranayama and dhyana, meditation, but most of the times it’s split into different classes.
In times of high stress levels, lots of burn outs, the interest of different practices arise. Mindfulness is a term we here more and more and health is getting more attention. Not just the body, but also the mind. Yoga is a spiritual practice, even if you practice asanas only. The goal isn’t fitness oriented (a nice side effect, I know!), but a moving meditation. Yoga means union. Union between our ego (ahamkara), who is the owner of thoughts, the inner voice talking non-stop, and our true self (atman).
The yoga sutras state: „The essence and purpose of yoga is to calm the turbulence of the mind, so that we can see our true nature.“
Next time you’re practicing asanas, think of it. Bing you full attention to your breath, make it strong and go internal. Do the postures, but don’t care about them too much. Start the journey to your true self!
There is no bad practice. All practice is perfect. Each asana is perfect.
Do you feel overwhelmed sometimes from all those Facebook and Instagram yoga pics and videos? Honestly, I do sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch yogis in their beautiful practice, but same time I feel kind of sad. We should avoid thinking that this is how a yoga practice should look like.
What we see is a beautiful performance. Is it yoga, because the it’s made of yoga postures? Can be. Perhaps it’s just a show of flexibility and strength. We can’t see what’s happening inside, but for sure it’s not me. It’s not you. It’s not our truth. So it doesn’t tell us how our practice should look like. Just watch and enjoy. End of story.
On your mat, close your eyes. Withdraw your senses and start your practice. Let your aim be finding yourself, your true self. Not your body, not your thoughts, not your limitations. Through asana practice, through meditation, or best case a combination, a moving meditation. Having said that, it is important to do the postures as correct as we can to avoid injuries and to benefit most. However don’t care much about how your practice looks. It’s your practice, just yours. Your practice is not mine. Mine is not yours. Both are perfect. No judgment, no competition.
Allow your mind practicing yoga, not just your body doing asanas. This is what it’s all about, connecting, stillness, peace. Within.
Om shanti shanti shanti.
Image: a card from the beautiful Moon Deck (www.themoondeck.com)
My practice is difficult at the moment. Due to a couple of things happening in my life, it was and still is a huge challenge to keep my regular practice. On the mat I’m currently experiencing a lack of balance and focus. Plus a busy mind, terribly noisy. All thoughts just about what part of my practice I might skip. Restless. In a rush.
Today all of a sudden a much stronger thought took my attention: be proud, you showed up! You ARE practicing!
Yogis, this is so true. Even if it’s tough for me right now, I’m practicing. Even if sometimes I skip postures, I’m practicing. Even if my mind doesn’t stop talking, I’m practicing. Even if I don’t feel like, I’m on my mat. And yes, I AM proud.
Whatever is going on in your life yogis, always remember, it’s not about asanas, it’s about practicing. Just show up and practice. Do whatever you can and allow yourself to feel good about it.
Just not tomorrow, it’s full moon — so enjoy your day off 🙂
I felt quite bad today — sad, worrying and a headache was trying to tempt me to just lay down on the sofa. My mat seemed far away, when I told myself, I’ll feel much better after practicing. So I did. Went to my mat, without any expectations.
I turned slow and peaceful music on. Closed my eyes when warming myself up. In samasthiti I started my Ujjayi breath, very intense and I kept this during the full practice. It was loud and deep and felt like a storm going through my body. It even deepened some asanas. And yes, practice felt so good and not just my body said thank you, also my mind is in a much better mood now!
My breath cleaned me. My breath took all that shit out of me, that put me down. My inner smile is back.
This kind of intensifying asana practice also works when being in a happy mood — you can even push more. Stay a bit longer in each asana, close your eyes and go into your feelings. You may enjoy some and others better let go. So a rather aware inner tidying up. Let go of anything that doesn’t serve you any longer and enjoy.
Let your body work and your mind will follow.