My favourite thing about practicing yoga is how it always brings me back to myself. In other words, it removes layers of worry, fatigue, and cloudiness,and helps me shed obsessions and desires about money and things. I’m not talking about shedding healthy ambition or success and becoming a monk, I’m talking about the superfluous wants and misguided priorities that are all too easy to latch onto. Yoga brings me back to the balanced, smart me.
That’s always the right place to start from, in relationships and in planning of any kind. But for some, me included, being face to face with oneself isn’t always easy. Especially if you have dealt with things in your past by running away from them. If running away, or bottling up your emotions, medicating, or denial are in your toolbox of life, then coming “back to yourself” can be tricky.
Asana practice in yoga (all the poses) works by developing and tiring the body, while one maintains control of the breath, so that the mind follows and relaxes and disassociates from your consciousness and sense of self. In short, you step back and “see” your thoughts and concepts about yourself and realize that it’s all just really concepts. Brilliant, right?!
Yoga is “the calming of the ripples of the mind”, according to the second Yoga Sutra. What you get is a clearer perception of reality and of your own past and present (the third Sutra). And of the world. I propose that for sensitive persons unaccustomed to such insight, it can be a shock, and at the same time, a wonderful period of revelation and an opportunity for immense growth.
In yoga spiritual theory, it could be said that as my yoga practice has progressed, I have “calmed the ripples” of my mind to some degree and have begun to tap into an inner well of universal and divine knowledge. In terms of modern, neurological and biological science-based explanation (based on research), it could be said that the moving meditation of yoga has released me from non-productive thought patterns, released my mind and body from stress and stress hormones, promoted regeneration, prevented illnesses along the way, and much more.
I’m glad to have found what works for me, and of course I love to teach and share yoga to as many as possible. This post is really a warning about “what comes up” and what lies beneath. When yoga works, it really works. It is transformative. If necessary, get your support network in place, keep good friends close, and always be your biggest cheerleader. Hit the mat often, in class or at home. Be ready to face whatever it is that you couldn’t before. You can do it if you know your true nature, and headstand, sun salutations, or mindful breathing. Somehow, they make anything surmountable.