/Ad links/ I hear people talking about that post-yoga glow, more and more people are going on yoga retreats on during their holidays. Also, it looks cool on Instagram and even though it has thousands of years traditions to it, it has at least been in fashion since Madonna started preaching about it decades ago. I have the strength and flexibility to do quite advanced stuff and I feel in control, peaceful and calm when I have practiced. So why am I not totally in love with it?
What is yoga?
I think you’ll get different answers to this depending on who you ask. The word yoga is derived from Sanskrit and is often interpreted as “union”, in some cases “method” or “discipline”. These are some explanations of what yoga is that I have read, just to dive you some idea of the diversity:
1.) Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing Truth.
2.) Google says: a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
3.)”The word “yoga” essentially means, “that which brings you to reality”. Literally, it means “union.” Union means it brings you to the ultimate reality, where individual manifestations of life are surface bubbles in the process of creation. Right now, a coconut tree and a mango tree have popped up from the same earth. From the same earth, the human body and so many creatures have popped up. It is all the same earth.” – Sadhguru
However, if you ask a random person on the street they might say that yoga is a training form only with some meditation thrown into it. Taking all the various definitions of yoga together I at least gather that yoga has something to do with the mind, much more so than the body, and that you are using the body to tap into and control the mind. Right now I probably sound like a complete yoga novice, but I first started yoga, as well as Pilates, when I was about 17 years old, that is now 15 years ago. Back then I mainly used yoga as a tool to develop my flexibility as a dancer instead of the typical static stretching we’d do after classes. There are many forms of yoga and I have tried most of them, but I favor hatha, asthtanga and vinyasa. However, I’m not going to go into the specifics of yoga itself or any of the forms, because in this post I want to share with you what yoga gives me and how I fell that it limits me.
I’m here for the asanas
I am the first person to tune out when the teacher or class starts chanting. All the Ohms and the ahs are boring the heck out of me and talk about chakras, the third eye and so on is completely unnecessary to me, although truly understand that the less physical rites can be vital to someone else’s practice, so do disrespect intended here. We have got to have respect for the tradition, the teacher, the studio and our fellow yogis.”She’s a sports scientist and wants to measure everything, so she’s not spiritual and that’s why she’s not getting it” you might think now. Au contraire: but spirituality is not my why. It is not why I personally practice yoga. But will I ohm and chant like a pro, and then get on with what I came for: the asanas. These are physical positions, which all have very intricate Sanskrit names.
This is when the lights turn on inside of me! I forget everything else and I am fully engrossed in the teacher’s words and how I can apply them to my body. I feel every angle, position and pressure in my body and I breathe so deeply and comfortably. This is the best feeling – ever! Through the positions and flows I find deep mental concentration which I carry with me. When walking out of the door from a yoga studio it’s like waking up: I see everything very clearly and feel like a super-human.
I go to yoga class for the physical exercise and to move differently, when a teacher surprises me with a new transition or cue. I go to yoga to get my body and mind connected, but that same feeling of high focus I do get from other forms of physical movement as well.
The mat is too small
While many yoga teachers have different issues with aspects of the yoga community, my issues are different. The mat is simply too small for me to want to spend a lot of hours on it every week, and this is not because I am 1.80 m! It is weird, because the while the mat feels like “home” it also feels wrong to me to only practice yoga, and perhaps run. I want to move! The body is designed to move in multiple directions, not just put yourself in a multiplane- and axes pose and stay there. Restricting movement to a yoga mat is practical in a full class, but I’d argue that it’s not wholesome if you want to take all the human physical properties in to account. The nervous system, skeleton and skeletal muscles should be challenged with change of directions, different speeds and loads in greater extents than yoga can provide.
Yoga every damn day
Oh, for sure! Every single day I have my body go through a couple of yoga positions. It just happens and I don’t even think about it, because yoga has been such an integral part of my life for half of it. I don’t do a full-on yoga practice every day though, but when I need to gather my thoughts I either walk, run or do yoga. If I feel out of touch with my body and it’s capabilities or just feel stiff, I do yoga.
What I want to say with this post is that yoga is for everyone and you don’t have to forgo any of the other activities that you like to do, you don’t have to be vegan and you don’t have to be super spiritual and deep about it (warning: you might become super deep in the process, though;:-)). You can be like me, and go to class when you feel the need for it or play with yoga in your living room, just because it feels good and it gets you moving in a different way than the usual.
I am all about moving in in accordance with the body’s design and challenge all of its physical properties on a regular basis. So many people I meet can’t do a primitive squat, are getting awkwardly up and down from the floor and don’t understand the which way the limbs can or can not move. Go to yoga, or don’t go, but at least explore and connect with the masterpiece that is your body!