One feels intimidated to start a yoga practice when looking at complex yoga poses, yoga apparel and impressive body shapes.
What if I told you that yoga was “invented” for the unique purpose of meditation?
Walk with me… The word yoga means “unity” — unity of ourselves with the universe, God, divine, whatever you are comfortable calling “it.”
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Unity of all that we are, of all our parts: shiny and shadowy, likable and shameful, clear and confused. All are lovingly invited to the yoga party. It is unity of all of our aspects: physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual. It’s a way of living wholesomely.
In the words of one of my favorite yoga philosophers “Yoga is a process of gathering oneself together; it means to bring about a total alignment of the inner layers of one’s personality.” – Swami Krishnananda, Divine Life Society.
The most well known part of yoga are the physical poses. They are important, as they bring about health and we need to be on top of our health to explore meditation. If meditating wasn’t foreign enough, doing it with knee pain, constipated or lacking sleep, amounts to extra challenges that make it unbearable.
Hence the yoga poses, they bring about that foundation for meditation practice, no doubt. Yoga is a science, not a religion. One of my teachers in India used to say, yoga makes a Hindu a better Hindu, a Christian a better Christian, a Muslin a better Muslin etc.
Yoga is not physical exercise. I think by being perceived as such, it may make it more attractive and an easy entry for a lot of us.
Yoga can be described as 8 steps that unfolds from good human values such as nonviolence, truthfulness, cleanliness, moderation, self-discipline, contentment, self-study, etc. that in Sanskrit are called yamas and niyamas (steps 1 and 2).
The yoga poses (asanas) are step 3, so we ideally enter the mat imbibed by the living principles, but in my experience, they all interconnect and the order is subverted all the time.
Step 4 are the pranayamas, or the breath exercises and all the other forms of enhancing and improving energy. Followed by Dharana, which is basically more yoga practices that are designed to start bringing the yogi inwards a bit more, a bridge of sorts between the external yoga into the internal yoga, preparing us for step 6 Dhyana, concentration/meditation.
I hear from so many people, “I’ve always wanted to try yoga.” I invite you to try a class or a video that appeals to you and see what unfolds for YOU.
Go with an open heart. An open heart to yoga and to yourself. For me, it has been my rock, my lifestyle, that keeps me rooted like a tree in a windy world.
Ana Mares Guia has a MA in Yoga Therapy applied to mental health. She taught yoga for 23 years. She is the owner of Divya Jyoti Yoga Therapy Center in Tallahassee, where she offers private yoga therapy sessions and a yoga therapy group on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. For more information email@example.com.
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