What if…

… you forget about yoga being a fitness regime?

… you tune in to connect with your pure being?

… you allow things to unfold and happen?

In your practice, aim to be like a child. Open, curious, pure and free. Thus, your heart leads you to your destiny, instead of your ego trying to stop you by whispering all the can’t do’s. In the yoga room, on your mat, you are safe and protected. Forget about all the layers and roles and start the journey leading to your beautiful pure self.

No one cares whether you can touch your toes or put your leg behind your head. True yoga is about how you shape your life, not how you perform postures. The moment your practice turns into a living practice of life, not a lifestyle, you become aware of the precious gift life is as such.

What if…. you show who you truly are? Start on the mat and bring it into all other parts of your life. There’s no such thing as separation. Yoga is oneness. No matter what.

Atman

When I was a child, there was a time I was thinking about who I am. It was very clear to me, that there is something I struggled explaining or finding the right words. I called it my “coenesthesia”. This feeling of “I”, which I believed would not die with my body. This special feeling when saying “I”, this is my true self.

I kept this belief my whole life, but many years later yoga philosophy taught me the right terms of what I already knew since a young child. In yoga this true inner essence, our inner self is called Atman. A kind of fragment of the Divine (Brahman), which exists in every one of us, and which is the very core of our being. We easily mistake it with our ego and identify with our body and mind, instead of going beyond intellect, ego and emotions.

Realizing this false conviction and identification with the ego, the mortal body and mind is called liberation (Moksha), which eventually leads to freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth (Samskara).

Frankly spoken, even if I had this insight already as a child, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to live by. To translate and implement it into daily life is where we struggle most. Knowing, understanding is one side of the medal, get it on the driver seat of life is the other side.

This is what a meditation and yoga practice helps with, no matter what style, on or off the mat. Yoga is the sum of all paths on inner development, the goal of which is to realize and experience your Divine true inner self, and thereby transform life.

This short dispatch is nothing but a very high level glance at the yoga philosophy, which is so worth a deep dive!

Union

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.

(Sharon Gannon)

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!

Yoga and business

How can this go together? When looking at my objectives as a yoga teacher, it’s pretty smooth. I want to give. Meaning guide my students and help them to tune in through the physical practice. Help them to maybe discover more, maybe learn about themselves, maybe start their transformation, whatever this means to them.

When people ask me, why are you teaching, even next to your full time job, that’s a huge effort? My answer is easy: I watch my students arriving to class and seeing their faces when they leave – I can see they changed. For the better. They look happier, calmer, there’s something in their eyes, that warms up my heart. And I leave class similar: shining.

And yes, in this world we’re living in, it’s absolutely ok to get money for this. It’s not about having fun, it’s work. Preparing classes, go there, doing them, investing my time and not to mention all the education and training, which isn’t just a one off, but ongoing.

But yoga is so much more. Not just a job, not just exercise. It’s a transformational process, an attitude towards life. Sadly, for some teachers and business owners, teaching yoga and living yoga is not always the same. That’s what I’m experiencing again and again. The business seem to overrule the yogi. In other words: the ego has still got the leadership role. Maybe we also need this, the other side of the coin? We are different, we have different approaches and as always, there’s no right or wrong. I strongly believe, the yoga business is no show-face to the students and when turning around a different face shows up. For me yoga is about integration and authenticity. I know, this isn’t always easy, but hey, we’re human beings and just imperfect perfect!

Each teacher is also a student, we’re all practitioners, so let’s use our yoga practice to move into stillness in order to experience the truth of who we are. As a student, as a teacher, as an individual, as a soul. And this is not an end point, this is the beginning of the journey, the beginning of our transformation. Teachers out there, love what you do, be you, aim true!

 

Play more

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

― Lao Tzu

My practice at the moment is quite difficult. I couldn’t practice for some weeks and before being even back on the mat, I caught a terrible cold. Impossible to breathe properly, not to even think about any physical strain.

I had to step back, once again and restarted my practice with some restorative and yin yoga. Careful and soft, listening to my body even more, only doing what felt good without challenging my sick body. Finding my strength in accepting a different practice, accepting to go slow, accepting to struggle.

I’m not injured, nothing major, but anyhow, sometimes it’s tough to see ourselves rather stepping back than moving forward. Hello ego!

It’s time to cultivate the courage to enjoy who I am. Each moment. With all the limitations, all the highs. It’s time to enjoy. I turned different music on for my practice. I start playing, just moving with the music, without thinking. Feeling, listening, playing, celebrating the slowness, getting soft. Interestingly, by playing, you’ll remember what’s important. It’s not about permanent progress, not about always getting better. It’s about doing good for your body and mind. Learning who you are. Stop holding, learn to let go. In my case, particularly let go of expectations. That’s it, that simple. Do good to yourself. You’ll improve anyhow, maybe much more as you can imagine…

It’s about people, not poses.

Some teachers teach poses; some teachers teach people. Some students want to work on their fitness, some students want to improve, grow, work on their body and mind. For some it’s work out, for some it’s magic.

What’s wrong, what’s right? Nothing. Just different approaches. We can practice yoga as a cardio workout. We can practice yoga to increase our flexibility. We can practice yoga as a moving meditation. We can practice yoga as a reflection on our body’s reaction to the work. We can practice yoga as a spiritual experience. And everything in between. There are teachers out there for each approach, nothing wrong, nothing right. No matter what you do, as long as you feel good, you’re doing it all right.

But what does it mean to teach people, rather than poses? Well, we are still talking about asana practice, meaning we go through postures in class. First priority – yes this is about poses and part of the game – is to do them correct or find a suitable modification. Not to master them, but to protect ourselves from injury. Now it’s up to you, leave it here or go to the next level, which means for me, teaching how to connect with ourselves. Go internal to feel what you are doing. Listen to your body. Respect your limitations of the day. Learn to breathe and let the breath initiates the movement to finally fly through the asanas. When holding the postures, find stability as well as ease. Enjoy what you are doing. Learn from what you can and can’t do so far. What is your body telling you? Why is there a stiffness, why does it hurt here, why isn’t there any progress? Is there really no progress? Why in a hurry?

Yoga can be so much more than bending your body into a pretzel or standing on your hands. If you just want this, absolutely fine. Go for it, it’s a great fitness tool. If you are open to receive more, get the journey started and allow yoga to change your life. To change yourself. Learn to differentiate between yourself and your ego.