The Importance of Yoga

Yoga in India

Being in India has opened up my eyes, my mind, and my soul to a whole new world and meaning of yoga. After spending a month in the yoga capital of the world, I feel like I have started a whole new chapter in my life. I have an amazing new sense of self and have developed a stronger connection with the here and now. Yoga has become something more to me then an hour work out at the gym. It has become a way of life.

Many Westerners may think of yoga as an invigorating series of postures, breathing exercise and way to stay fit. In fact, yoga is becoming the most popular relaxation and fitness pursuit in the western world. But, physical practices are only part of a vast and ancient spiritual tradition that originated more than three millennia ago in India.

Previously to my travels through India, I had only experienced yoga as it was offered at my local YMCA. As a predominantly visual creature, as humans tend to be, during practice I found myself looking at each yoga pose I was told to hold for a slight moment before they would wander to the Lululemon outfit, or new hairstyle of the student on the next mat. Then of course wherever our eyes are directed, our mind follows. I’d begin to think of what I was going to wear that night on my dinner date, which would lead to thinking about how I needed to do laundry, and so on. Each distraction would only lead me further and further away from control and focus which are fundamental principles in yoga. I would leave yoga class feeling yes, slightly more relaxed, but thinking I could get a much sweatier and beneficial work out by running on the treadmill for ten minutes. I didn’t understood the benefit of this yoga practice, and like many, I was thinking about how yoga would shape me up rather than understanding the true meaning of the practice.

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Yoga is a living process

Yoga is a living process. The heart of yoga does not lie in visible attainments; it lies in learning and exploring the inner self. It is about learning about the whole field of life using the energy systems of one’s mind and body to find out how one works and how universal patterns express themselves through individuals. Yoga helps us to balance and calm the body and mind and abolish afflictions of the mind that cause unhappiness and suffering and reach a state of stillness of the mind that is our true self. Yoga helps us to learn to still the consciousness so that it is not disturbed and pure awareness can abide in its very nature. In other words, learning to live completely in the present moment. You may be thinking, I do live in the moment! But do you REALLY? Have you ever just closed your eyes and tried to think of nothing? If you haven’t, try it now. As soon as you tell yourself to think of nothing, your mind begins to race. Your mind jumps from one thought to the next. This happens to everyone. No matter what we are doing, our minds are most likely thinking about the next thing we will do or something we did the night before. Our mind is like an untamed puppy and practicing yoga helps us to train that puppy. It helps us quiet the mind and see things clearly, as they truly are.

All in all, yoga is an lifelong journey with amazing rewards along the way. It is a way of life that I have only just begun to comprehend, but feel that already it a life necessity. If you open your heart and most importantly your mind, you too can discover the power of yoga.

Do you practise yoga?

Kristen Sarah is a full-time traveller, tiny home owner and adventure junkie. She has one of the leading YouTube travel channels and is the head honcha of award-winning travel and lifestyle website, Hopscotch the Globe.

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12 Comments

  1. November 12, 2016 / 5:16 am

    Great share ! Yoga is a way of living that aims towards ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body.

    thanks

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  3. September 16, 2011 / 7:54 am

    That’s so great Tanya! You should check out the book “Wisdom of Yoga” by
    Stephan Cope. You learn a lot about the history of yoga and it’s power
    and how to make it your lifestyle. I highly recommend it. Thanks babe! 

    • Misade
      January 1, 2013 / 12:17 am

      Dude, this is bananas! I’ve “The Wisdom of Yoga” by Stephen Cope in my mano like righ tnow. This is the second or third time that I’ve read that book and it is amazing. It is certainly difficult to comprehend the beauty of yoga when we live in such a fast-paced and seemingly contrary nature to that of ancient yogis. The book by Stephen Cope certainly opened my eyes to the meaning of true practice. Sometimes we think that going to a couple yoga practices and classes and, all the sudden, we are Buddha Patanjali in the flesh Americanized version with new tights and leotard, but it is so much more than that. It is beyond the yoga mat and downward-facing dog every Tuesday and Thursday after work. Yoga is a way of life and it is awesome that someone went to yoga to search this out, awesome. Read the book ma, it is well worth your efforts.

      • kristenj
        January 3, 2013 / 6:21 pm

        That’s exactly what happend to me when I read the book. It actually changed my life, especially because I was reading it while practising in India. It made me realize that yoga is not just a sport, but a way of life.

  4. Oliviabaumann
    January 18, 2011 / 8:59 am

    Great journey! I have been practising hatha yoga in France and would like to know where you have been practising Yoga in India? I am planning to go to Kerala. Any tips?

    • Anonymous
      January 18, 2011 / 10:36 am

      Hey Olivia! I did yoga all over India, but most of my time was spent doing yoga in Rishikesh. I meant to just pass through Rishikesh and ended up staying there for a month. It was amazing! I tried quite a few different yoga teachers but my favorite was Surinder who taught in Ram Jhula. Everyone there knows who he is. He is a very very good hatha yoga teacher. I didn’t get to explore much of the yoga in Kerla, but I hope to when I go back to India in the near future. Good luck:)

  5. T Baxter622
    January 16, 2011 / 12:04 am

    Awesome report Kristen. You tell it how it is. I can relate to the part about doing yoga in a classroom setting. There’s just to many distractions.. All the scantily clad women doesn’t help much, not that im complaining of course 😉

  6. Tanya Eubanas
    January 15, 2011 / 3:15 pm

    Hey Kristen, Love the piece! I started practising yoga around the same time that I became a vegetarian and I am absolutely impressed with how my life has changed overall. Keep up the great work honey and stay safe out there! xo

    • Anonymous
      January 15, 2011 / 3:59 pm

      That’s so great Tanya! You should check out the book “Wisdom of Yoga” by Stephan Cope. You learn a lot about the history of yoga and it’s power and how to make it your lifestyle. I highly recommend it. Thanks babe!

    • hopscotchtheglobe
      January 15, 2011 / 3:59 pm

      That’s so great Tanya! You should check out the book “Wisdom of Yoga” by Stephan Cope. You learn a lot about the history of yoga and it’s power and how to make it your lifestyle. I highly recommend it. Thanks babe!

    • October 10, 2012 / 12:38 pm

      I live in the Caribbean and recently visietd Brookings. The cold SD wind had me chilled to the bone. I happened to see Yoga-versity’s advertisement in the local paper.The studio was fantastic and I had a wonderful experience. And yes I was able to get warmth back in the core of my body.

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