When most people think of Yoga, they think of classes and holding the body in different positions to stretch, lean out and lengthen the muscles. But yoga is so much more than that – it’s a way of life.
In fact, the philosopher Patanjali, who wrote the Yogasutras scripts in the 1st or 2nd century, asserts there are eight limbs of yoga – ashtanga – off which postures – asanas – is only one, as number three. The other seven are Yama (abstinence), niyama (observance), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (contemplation, self-realisation, enlightenment). So postures are only one eight of the science of yoga!
I’m not going to go in depth to all the theory (though on return home I’d be extremely happy to share with anyone interested; I find it fascinating!!), but a few things learnt so far have really stood out to me.
When I was coming over, I got asked over and over what type of yoga I would be learning. This categorisation of types is quite a Western construct; Patanjali, although setting out the five types of of Bhakti, Karma, Jnana, Hatha and Raja, tells that all interrelate and cross over. So while what I’m learning is primarily Hatha, threads of the others merge in.
There are more than 8million asanas, of which we are focusing on 52. All of the poses come from the world around us; think tree pose, locust pose, downward dog. Although this idea was always in the back of my mind, it had now come to the forefront and I laugh thinking of my schnauzer Otto doing his DD hundreds of times throughout the day.
I read this quote that absolutely resounded with me, by Swami Satyanada:
“When people ask for your qualifications, they ask for your intellectual qualifications, your income, your status. Nobody asks for your emotional stability or to what extent you have integrated your head, heart and hand – they want to know how you think rather than how you feel.”
The modern world puts so much importance on external life and tends to disregard the inner state of being. I’m changing to view my inner self as of far greater importance.
Being here has made me realise just how hectic and unbelievably clustered my mind is. I am constantly looking to the next thing, never being fully present in the moment, and so many thoughts are flurry ing around my mind at any given time. I used to be proud of my ability to multi task but it’s just gotten ridiculous.
I have actively started to try to live in the moment. It is so so Difficult! My mind just runs away from me and it takes a few beats for me to catch it. But slowly, agonisingly incrementally, I’m improving.
I already feel I’m becoming a different person. I just hope when I return to NZ I don’t get sucked into how I was before and regain the cotton wool, racing mind I so desperately want to rid myself off forever.
The core of yoga philosophy is that everything is supplied from within the individual. Yoga is a way of life.