I’ve mentioned before that yoga is not just a form of exercise. Yoga is a way of respectful conscious living. At it’s core, a yoga students aim is to quiet the constant chatter of the mind, to settle the thought waves. In ancient scripts, Patanjali describes yoga as Chitta Vritti Nirodha, translated it means “yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.”. By calming the chatter of the mind we have the potential to see reality. Reality is the present, without the application of our habitual self protective filters that we have developed, layer by layer, during our life.
The physical form of Yoga is in fact just one tool that we can use in order to help calm our mind and experience true reality. The Yoga Asana (postures) bring us fully into the present moment as we concentrate on what we are doing, right now. They show us the reality of our bodies, the tension we are holding and very often our bodies reflect what is happening or has happened in our lives, physically and emotionally. As we become aware, tensions can release, blockages held in the body can be let go, layer by layer. It’s a lifelong journey.
You can take this new awareness of the present moment off your mat and into your life, to every moment of your day, to every interaction people, animals and your environment.
Here’s a simple example of how to do this.
Take a walk and engage all of your senses … listen, smell, look, touch … now REALLY listen, smell, look and touch as if it’s your first time to experience grass, trees, flowers, sky. Don’t let your mind fill in the gaps with what you have grown to learn is there. See it. Hear it. Feel it. Keep your attention on soaking up the experience around you. If you find your mind wandering off and thinking about work, relationships, to do lists, shopping, plans … come back and be fully present now …. don’t disappear off into a story of the past or a possible future. You’ll find joy, peace and clarity right now, right here.
Scientifically this is bringing your brain into Alpha wave patterns rather than active problem solving/monkey brain Beta wave patterns. The sages didn’t need the science to know this, they trusted their instinct.
This is me doing Yoga in the bluebell woods. Yep. I’m doing yoga. Just standing there. Looking, smelling the flowers, seeing the vivid blues and green, listening to the birds, feeling the ground under my bare feet, admiring the shafts of sunbeams shining through the canopy onto the woodland floor. Looking at my friend whose taking the picture and thinking how lucky I am to have her in my life. Just being. That’s yoga too and it’s so very peaceful, calm, powerful, healing and energising. How do you do your yoga off the mat?