Practice yoga and all is coming.K Pattabhi Jois
This phrase is synonymous with K Pattabhi Jois, the Indian yoga teacher who popularised and developed the style of yoga known as Ashtanga vinyāsa. I am a Scaravelli inspired yoga teacher, to some polar opposite to Jois’s Ashtanga. However, I too practice. What compels me to practice, and why do I think others should or could do the same?
How do we define yoga and practice?
The word Practice is a noun and a verb. Yoga’s definition is a noun, a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching. The etymology of yoga, however, is from the Sanskrit word Yuj, means to yoke or bind
To make a statement about defining yoga and practice, I have to be honest and relate to what my current thinking is on the topic. Over the years, I have practised yoga I have related its meaning from my ever-evolving understanding. That fact is we do evolve, and that’s the key.
The practice I interpret to mean action, the doing of it rather than just ideas or thoughts about doing it. Whatever it is.
Yoga is a little more loaded. It is quite challenging to define what I think yoga is. But again, it has to be in my current understanding and to be as authentic as I can, myself, understand. I think it is about being yourself.
We’re made of stardust and life
Following a discipline based on ideas that you may not represent you but that you get gratification from can create an awkward reliance. That does not necessarily help you to any place where you recognise yourself and your nature.
In my mind, there is something of ritual involved in creating a space and time that you claim to be yours. It could be enough to lay out a yoga mat at home, and if you are lucky to have a solitary moment or two. The setting could be almost anywhere; we can relax and feel at ease. Of course, this happens in a yoga class with others surrounding you too. Our neurology is affected by our environment. Yoga studio’s all over the world make good use of our human condition to be in small groups performing a like-minded goal. And they can create the conditions to enable a nurturing experience.
What does it mean to you?
Ask my students to describe what they interpret a yoga practice to mean, and a common theme to the answer is giving time to yourself. The outcome of doing this varies more, but the Intention to make time is more constant. I feel that Intention and our recognition of it are fundamental to the outcome of the yoga practice.
So my interpretation is we are practising being ourselves. Because being ourselves needs practice. Or does it?
We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.T. S. Eliot
Why do I practice yoga?
Well, I am a yoga teacher and by default, surely I should. As I think our practice is actually about noticing ourselves, the notion of time has to come into this. I am not the same man I was when I started yoga almost 24 years ago. Our cells continuously renew at varying rates but think about this; your bones take ten years while the skin cells rejuvenate in 4 weeks. Excellent news I may be younger than I think. But I also feel other benefits some more obvious than others, but undoubtedly there. A recent report concluded that the frequency of practice and possibly the time of day had measurable positive effects on the mental and physical wellbeing of the participants. To some, this reinforces K Pattabhi Jois’s statement. However, the more years the teacher had practised also lead to more empathy with students.
Why should you practice yoga?
Excellent question. There are a few considerations worthy of your attention. Firstly the commercialisation of yoga. Secondly, cultural appropriation. Yoga teachers outside of India do both of this almost by default. However, if you are considerate and lucky enough to meet an authentic teacher, you could start to benefit from the feel-good factor that it seems so widely to promote.
The Sanskrit word Yuj means to yoke or bind
Yoga is not Exercise
Yoga is quite the opposite, and that is the burgeoning understanding rocking the established thinking and systematisation of hatha yoga in the west. We’re not just stressing bodily structure to make changes, and an awful lot of Hatha Yoga classes and teaching is doing just that. No, I think that we can make changes on the neurological level. And this is where I would encourage a new or experienced yoga student to focus on why regular practice is priceless.
The felt sense of you.
So what are we doing when we practise yoga in this way when it not exercised? Structurally perhaps simply maintaining or restoring functional human movement. But it goes much deeper than this. To have optimal health, we require an accurate sense of proprioception (the innate ability to know where our bodies are in space). When we notice how we move by paying attention to our felt sense of us, we can affect our sensory nervous system to reboot. We remap our major movement patterns to our benefit both for ease of movement but also to resist conditions relating to chronic pain. Well mapped people suffer less pain.
Yuj means to yoke or bind
Perhaps this way of practising yoga is much more integrated, connected and involved. One needs to be fully present, and as what are present? These are the central questions yoga as an ancient philosophical system address.
So let us address some frequently asked questions to put your mind at ease.
Where can you practice?
In real terms, if you have a mindful yoga practice, anywhere. At home, at work, at the bus stop or of course, in a yoga class. If you are brand new to it, you could try a yoga workshop and get an in-depth view.
How often should you practice yoga?
As regularly as possible, for the most manageable amount of time. It may mean only five minutes at a time, but do that three times daily, five days a week, and you’ll reap huge benefits. Check your local yoga class schedules and give it a go.
Who can practice yoga?
Anyone, regardless of age, sexual orientation, mobility and religion. Any people who suffer from chronic pain, including M.E and Fibromyalgia, can benefit from mindful movement. ( there is now somatic yoga) There can be improvements, recovered from the degrading of our body maps due to Chronic pain when patients re-notice themselves.
How to start a yoga practice?
Google yoga classes near me. Look for listings with good reviews or get a personal recommendation. Always check the qualifications of the teacher. You could also consider a yoga one to one class. I use the session to assess the body pattern and advise how to proceed in what to practice from what I learn. Not all teachers are equal. Its why I love being a Scaravelli inspired yoga teacher.
Can I practice yoga at home?
Yes, you can. I encourage students to practice at home, in the most familiar surroundings, i.e. while you watch TV. At the kitchen sink washing up. Whenever reasonable notice if you need to release tension, and then take to the floor. Find your feet, learn to map your toes. In our culture, toes lose their sensory intelligence. Good feet equal good health. Permitting yourself to be with yourself without distraction is a good start. But it is advisable to get to a yoga class or workshop to make sure you do things right.
Want to work with me?
I am running a series of personalised yoga retreats for just two persons per yoga retreat. It is a unique opportunity to have an individualised yoga practice experience. I can asses your body map and advise how best to practice. If you would like to book, please follow the following link. ERLINGS YOGA RETREATS. The practices are not all sweat, pain & tears.
Give yourself an amazing gift
Personalised yoga retreats with Erling
Thanks for reading.
Reference: T. S. Eliot – We shall not cease from exploration and the…. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/t_s_eliot_109032