Yoga… What is Yoga? It’s an ancient teaching, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a moral code. It’s a choice. It’s movement, breath, meditation. It’s confusion, frustration, bliss. It’s divers, adaptable, strict.
I am not saying that there is only one truth about Yoga. There are as many Yoga styles as there are bodies performing it (and I’m not talking about Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar whateva…). The only way to do Yoga wrong is to hurt your body by overdoing it. Other than that – yoga away!
What I am saying though is that these days Yoga has become something like a label, a mask, a badge worn on social media. It has been forgotten what it was meant to be. Because there is so much more than just asanas and looking pretty in leggings and flexible as heck (not to speak of the whole discussion about Westerners taking over an ancient tradition and pretending enlightenment namaste-ing through life…). If you are interested in the 8 Limbs of Yoga then look for them, there are tons of information in the internet and this is not what I’m going for in this post. But still just mentioning: Pranayama, meditation, concentration, withdrawal of senses and so on. Yoga is never just a workout!
What I’m going for here is that the “superficialisation” (yes, new word!) made me doubt why I wanted and want to be a Yoga teacher. Why do I want to teach? What makes me passionate about being a teacher? Because doing something without passion about it would not transmit anything to others. Nada. It would be me performing postures explaining them. Not even guiding. Just… showing how it’s done. And that carries two issues: For one that would be doing it without heart. And you need your heart to do a beneficial Yoga practice, physically and spiritually speaking. Second: Like I said before there are as many Yoga styles as people doing it. “How it’s done” implies there is only one way. But that’s not true. Your body is different than mine, different than any other body in it’s abilities and limitations (due to so many things: tension, injury, disability… Nothing that should keep you away from doing it though!). And your body should be the only one telling you how it’s done! A teacher is only guiding you in and out of an asana, maybe interfering when they see that you are about to hurt yourself.
The whole point of Yoga in my perspective is a journey. A journey to myself. To get to know my body, my thoughts, my limits and my fears that come up during practice and that show me so much more about my overall attitude towards life. To be taught about the state my being is in every day, always changing. To be taught patience and accepting that things take time. Good things, all the things. Everything. And that I have to start at some point if I want to achieve something… (“Just where you are – that’s the place to start.” ~ Pema Chödron). My reward: Feeling myself so much more than before! In a Woah-where-does-that-muslce-come-from kind of way; in a Ah-now-I-can-stretch-in-this-posture kind of way. Juggling with my muscles, deciding which ones to use. But I had to go through my time of constant practice, learning and acceptance. I’m still there. It’s a big step in my process to self-love as well. So Yoga-lifestyle? Yes, but please not social media-style! Again, it’s not about the look of the pose but about it’s benefit for body, mind and soul. For your own holy trinity! And that’s what I want to share as a teacher: The possibilities and benefits of the journey to yourself through a yoga practice. The awareness for your being, your own special little piece of this existence is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Combined with self-love of course.
So just imagine this: You are standing up in the morning, you get out of your bed by pulling the blanket away, swinging one leg over the corner and then putting both feet on the floor. In each movement you are aware of your muscles supporting you, the strength of your legs (and not your back!) pushing you up into a standing position.You can observe which emotions and memories are flooding your consciousness since the moment you woke up. Joy of being alive flows through you and the knowledge that no morning will ever be like this one. Real knowledge, not the blabla esoteric postcard wisdom. No, the real feeling in your bones and blood that it’s a unique morning in your life and that you truly want to make the best out of it. You can also sense the tension of the night, laying for hours and maybe having an intense dream. And you know that you will do your Yoga and meditation practice and that that will help you center yourself in a way that is beneficial for you.
The thing I want to make clear is that we need to get away from the idea that we have to copy some very talented and flexible individuals presenting themselves on platforms accessible to all of us. They may mean no harm at all, but the tendency goes towards imitating that and as a result hurting ourselves in all the levels, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. So listen to your body, really listen (or bodies if we are already talking about levels)! They will tell you how to do things, not just Yoga. And it might look different than expected or wished for but in the end it’s your asana, your practice.
I’m not intending to show freaky postures on Instagram or Pinterest. That only fuels envy and dissatisfaction with my own process and progress. I am intending however to be consistently healthy in body, mind and soul until I die. Like really. I want to be one of those sporty 80-year-olds, not withering away in front of a TV like a cactus that is not watered enough. There is no need for continuous tension. Try relaxed. Try restorative. Try listening to yourself.
And that’s what I am and want to be passionate about as a teacher of Yoga. And as a person that is fully immersed in her journey.