There are many approaches to yoga. You may prefer one style over another. The approach of some teachers may resonate more than others.
reYoga encourages you to embrace a systematic approach to your practice.
You may have started where many do, thinking that yoga is asana, poses. You may have heard people say “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible.” This is serious misunderstanding of yoga. Asana is only one of the tools used in the yoga tool kit. It is an important one because you understand your body, you relate to your body, you are in your body, so working with the body makes sense. Asana, therefore are the first step on the ladder. For the yoga tradition point of view one of the most important aspects of asana is purification of the body – not flexibility!
The most powerful element in doing yoga actually the breath. There are very specific breath techniques that we explore, but how we use breath in asana practice is equally powerful. One of the most potent breath techniques is to work with retentions; we only begin this work once you’ve explored working with balanced breath and the quintessential yogic breath which involves lengthening the exhalation. Mastery of the breath leads to mastery of the master. You cannot have one without the other.
The classic teachings of the Yoga Sutra are about the mind. This may surprise you. Yoga is actually a journey to knowing your Self; to connecting with the higher part of your Being; to moving beyond the distractions of the mind; and to reducing the functions of your mind that keep you identified with your lower self, thus your body and all your worldly attachments. Meditation is the tool that transports us from where we are to where we are meant to be. While many say, “I can’t meditate!”, they are wrong. We all can learn. It changes your life.
There are ways that you can layer aspects into your physical practice that make it more potent. Using specific techniques to work with energy, prana, is what differentiates yoga from regular exercise. You use locks, bandhas, to establish a container for more prana to be built. You want the animating forces of prana to work work optimally. This helps the body, the vessel of the Soul, to be strong, healthy and not a distraction or preoccupation. Mudras are techniques used to direct both prana and awareness similarly to bandhas, and can be external or internal.
As you begin to understand yoga as more than exercise, but as a journey of transformation, you see that many tools and techniques play a role. Working with the elements of the body, its many systems, the lifeforce (prana), and the mind, techniques are applied that create alchemic transformation. Some of these techniques are more potent than others, agni sara being a super-charged technique. You churn the abdomen to build fire (agni). This is the basis of the internal alchemy.
You may understand yoga as a number of techniques where you do things, which is very true. But a wonderful practice is gaining traction: Yoga Nidra. Nidra is known as yogic sleep. It is deeply relaxing, deeply healing and deeply transforming. It can even be seen as a technique for your spiritual awakening. Modern science is showing how important deep sleep is for optimal brain function and the related mental and physical health benefits. Yoga Nidra practice offers us these amazing benefits. Once you’ve experienced the richness of Nidra, you will make it part of your life.
There are many necessary elements to the yoga tradition that have nothing to do with physical practice. You start to develop a clearer mind through dedicated practice. Things that bothered you in the past, carry less weight over time. Things that triggered you have less sting. With a clearer mind you make better, life-affirming, decisions. And, you have the capacity for self-inquiry, to understand the desires behind some of your patterns, to reflect on your actions, thoughts and feelings and to discern what is and is not important as you move forward in your life. This is about living your life consciously, being director of your own story and not simply being pushed and pulled by your attachments and aversions. This is the path to your freedom, fulfillment and joy!
Using all of the above techniques in the context of yoga, tantra and Ayurveda, you have a complete system of wellness, healing and transformation.
Knowing which tools to use and when is part of the art and science of the traditions. With practice, you awaken your inner teacher, Adhi Guru. The answers to your questions come from within. The challenge is to honour the call of your Soul and not succumb to the gripping of personality and ego.
You can – and will – be the master of your breath, the master of your mind and the master of this life.