"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy."
When thinking of yoga, many people envision either a wise looking person sitting serenely in lotus pose (padmasana) or perhaps a lithe, ballerina-like woman twisted into a posture that looks downright impossible if not unnatural. In reality, yoga is neither of these things, but rather a whole science and a system that integrates the body, breath and the mind with the spirit. When we practice yoga we are ultimately working from the outside in. The idea is that as human beings, we work with what is most readily available to and tangible to us: the body. Makes sense, right? It's something that is here, right now in the present moment. We can see it and feel it, we can make it do things. It's what is familiar to us. But yoga teaches us that there's more to it than that. Yoga believes that our innermost part - what the yogis call our "true self" - is doing its best to get our attention in asking us to realize its presence. In yoga, the belief is that the body is a container for our consciousness and so the idea is that when we align our body with our breath, the true self opens up and takes over, thus allowing the body and brain to get out of the way. We use the body and breath to discipline the mind and to reach the soul.
This doesn't mean that yoga is all about the body. The body and the breath are just doorways in and when we animate each posture and breath with intention, we begin to turn the key in the lock and open the door to freedom.
When we practice this way, we open the door so that we can move through the world in the same way - from the heart and soul. We no longer reside in just the body or move through life stuck in the haziness of our whirling thoughts. We begin to approach everything we do from the light of our soul. This is how we find harmony.
Next time you practice, try getting out of your own way and connect to your joy!
Until next time...
From "Light On Life" by B.K.S. Iyengar:
"It must not be just your mind or even your body that is doing the asana. You must be in it. You must do the asana with your soul. How can you do an asana with your soul? We can only do it with the organ of the body that is closest to the soul – the heart. So a virtuous asana is done from the heart and not from the head. Then you are not just doing it, but you must instead feel your way into it through love and devotion.
In this way, you will work from your heart, not your brain, to create harmony. The serenity in the body is the sign of the spiritual tranquility. As long as you do not feel the serenity in the body, in each and every joint, there is no chance for emancipation. You are in bondage. So while you are sweating and aching, let your heart be light and let it fill your body with gladness. You are not only becoming free, but you are also being free. What is not to be glad about? The pain is temporary. The freedom is permanent."
It's not just about showing up and sweating your way through your practice. It's about moving from your soul, breathing from the very bottom of your heart and allowing your true self to shine!
"What you seek is seeking you."