Feeling: ILLUMINATED, EXHILIRATED, ELEVATED
I am absolutely in my element.
Anyone who knows me well knows I am the nerdiest, geekiest swot when it comes to learning. Especially when it’s a subject of interest to me; I become an addict. Yoga philosophy is my latest obsession and I can’t get enough.
I’m very much an all-or-nothing person and do not do things by halves; case in point, being in India. I could probably have done a yoga teacher’s course in Auckland but instead I flew to the other side of the world, to be taught in the Yoga capital of the world – Rishikesh. And the same attitude is the go when it comes to my studying.
All I can think about is when I can get an opportunity to get out my highlighters and jot down notes. Five minutes here, three minutes there; my briefcase-like bag of books and pens is always (and I mean always) at the ready. The other two girls just cannot understand my almost innate tendency to reach for my pen. “It’s all written in the book,” they say. Maybe so, but I want it in my handwriting, in my ruled up columns, categorised via my colour scheme. The wad of information given to each of us at the first lecture has been completely paraphrased and written into my work book, and it’s like my baby; I look at it and am filled with immense joy and just want to show everyone.
First off, an extremely succinct account of some of the stuff I find so unbelievably fascinating.
So yoga is a science. When many people, especially Western civilisations, think of yoga they think of an hour-long class encompassing lots of awkward positions, a bit of eye closing and some breathing exercises chucked in at the end for good measure. But yoga is so, so much more than that. It’s a way of life.
Pretty much, yoga started out as tantra 10,000 years ago. Lord Shiva, the father of yoga, and Parvati, his first disciple, are regarded as the founders. It was the first given point when the science of expanding the consciousness and liberating energy was first born. It was when humankind first recognised their spiritual potential and started evolving techniques to develop it.
It was slowly advanced by ancient sages the world over. However it was never written down or exposed to public view; this sacred stuff was kept to oral teachings and shrouded in symbolic depictions.
Then came the enlightenment period with those such as Budha, Jesus, etc etc, who set moral disciplines and codes. (Think “thou shall not steal, thou shall not kill” and so on). Ethics and morality came to the fore over practices – though there was still no scriptures or tangible works on it.
Enter Patanjali. Now about 5,000 years ago, this dude codified the first definitive, unified and comprehensive system of yoga termed the Yogasutras. His text is considered the bible of yoga and is still used all over the globe today. In his treatise he set out the eight limbs of yoga as listed in a previous post: Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi; abstinence, observance, posture, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and enlightenment.
From here, yoga is an absolute umbrella, spanning out into different types with different emphasis on different factors. Kind of like academic theorists in any given field, individual gurus and practitioners wanted to put their own stamp on it and create their own form. Hence confusion when people discuss the different types.
I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on about all the incredible aspects and philosophy (chakras, doshas, nadis, isa pingala and sushumna, bandhas, mudras, it’s insanely intoxicating!!) but I’ll spare you.
But regardless of its history and birth if you’re not into that sort of thing, yoga is physical and mental cleansing and strengthening. It gives a way to attain freedom from the hectic ness, stress, clutter and bondage of the modern world while still living in it.
And I can’t get enough. Four hours of practice everyday whooshes by. A few hours of lectures is pure bliss. It’s all my greatest loves in a trio: exercise, history/theory and feeling ecstatic.