Have you ever wondered why people get sick, tired, stressed, angry, sad, stiff or anxious? If you ask around you can be left thinking its because we don’t have the right relationships, jobs, medications. The right chemicals in our brains or the right thoughts in our mind.
The tradition of Yoga offers an alternative explanation which has nothing to do with what is missing and everyone to do with our approach and attitude.
In Yoga, balance and harmony is paramount. The mind, the body, the spirit. These 3 aspects must be developed and nurtured in balance. If we focus our attention on one while neglecting another, we create imbalance which causes illness, stress and disease. If we focus on career, family or friends at the expense of other areas of life we can do damage to ourselves and others.
If yoga were just another kind of exercise our aim would be simple. We wouldn’t practice with awareness on the breath. We wouldn’t practice pranayama (energetic breathing). We wouldn’t meditate and being better at it than others would be very important. Our aim would be simple. Stretch the body, create flexibility and be more physically fit, strong, capable or good looking.
But these are not the primary aims of Yoga and not the only goal of the practices we call Asana (physical poses and movements).
The aim of Yoga is union. Union of mind, body, spirit. We develop one aspect of ourselves so that it operates in harmony with all others. The mind, the body, the spirit. Working in union. We develop all aspects so that they operate as one.
When I first discovered Yoga, I experienced considerable imbalance in my life. This manifested as depression and anxiety. Stress, irritability and declining physical health were all a part of my existence. I felt powerless in the face of it all and there was a corresponding increase in the consumption of unhealthy food, alcohol and cigarettes. A steady decrease in my enjoyment of life.
I thought this was just how we get when we get older. Luckily something deep inside said not to believe this and I kept looking for something more.
My first Yoga class put me right back into the physical body that I’d long ignored. I was surprised at how much I’d neglected this aspect of myself. In time I was reminded of the importance of expressing emotion and observing the nature of my thoughts. I created space in my life for physical movement and breath awareness and I found that looking after myself was important not just for me but for my whole family.
In time and with discipline, the practice of Yoga has corrected many of the ailments I saw as unavoidable. As just part of “getting older”.
These days I have more energy, stillness, balance and presence. I go about the role of father, husband and teacher with the attitude of a joyous, excitable child.
Each day I grow older, and each day I return to the practice of Yoga feeling more alive and present.
It is my hope and firm belief that as the course progresses, you’ll discover your own reasons to practice balance and awareness through Yoga. Whether at home or through a regular class.