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.
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.