International Day Of Yoga
Yoga Nidra Practise
What is Yoga…….???
This is a fascinating question that we have all asked ourselves at some point, most likely at the beginning of our yoga journey. For many it may have been before during or after their very first yoga class and for some they may still be asking the same question years later. I know for me personally, it was a question after my very first yoga class. It was about ten years ago but I remember it like yesterday. Why did I remember it like yesterday? Because, I came out of the class thinking, ‘what the hell was that!’ The class I attended was on a Saturday morning at my local gym which I frequented often. I had decided to try a yoga class as I heard so much about it and how good it is for you. Supposedly, so many health benefits for not only the body but also the mind. Well I felt nothing that I thought I should have! My exact thoughts were:‘just a bit of stretching, actually quite boring, glad that is over now I can do a spin class.’With all this in mind I continued to attend this early Saturday morning class, I didn’t know why exactly I continued to go, perhaps on a sub-conscious level I was benefiting from it without realising.
It wasn’t for years later, when I took up Bikram Yoga, that I began to realise the benefits of yoga. Bikram Yoga is practised in a hot room with high humidity therefore making it extremely challenging for the mind and body. It is vital to concentrate on your breathing, without this concentration you cannot get through the class hence leaving no room for the mind to wander.The 90 minute class forced me to completely escape from the outside world and allowed me the time to be completely present. I felt like I was in a bubble of complete bliss. This new found blissfulness rapidly turned a regular practise; I would practise at least five days per week, sometimes even seven. It had become something I would look forward to on a daily basis; if time was scarce I would even take a class on my lunch break. This is when I began to truly understand what yoga was about.
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘yuj’, which means unite. Therefore the meaning of Yoga is union. Uniting and identifying with everything around you at the present moment, rising above the gross states of the mind and penetrating deeper into the essence of realism.
How does this definition correspond to boring yoga classes at the back of a gym and challenging bikram yoga classes, you might ask? Yoga asana (asana meaning posture) is just one of the eight limbs of yoga. Conscious movement of the body through asana co-ordinated with the breath allows us to sustain a meditative state throughout our practise. Hence allowing our minds to become stable and steady therefore harmonising our mind and body simultaneously. It is this harmonising that expels the daily gross thoughts of the mind and allows us to become more aware of the subtleties of the mind and brings us to a higher state of consciousness. This is the feeling I was starting to experience during my practise, at the time I was unaware of exactly what this was however the feeling was ecstatic which is what I became to thrive on. It wasn’t until I started to study yoga that I could really put the definition and experience together. As my understanding grew deeper and my practise grew stronger I was able to experience this state through self-practise, I no longer needed the intensity of the high temperatures and humidity to force the harmonising of mind and body.This deeper understanding of a higher state of awareness soon turned into a passion and is how I became a teacher.
Yoga is something that, in the west, is commonly mistaken as just a form of exercise. Don’t get me wrong, no doubt Yoga Asana has many physical benefits however this is not the true goal of yoga, yoga asana is important to keep the body healthy but is only one part of the journey to connect with a higher state of consciousness.
This is of course only touching on the definition of Yoga, I will go deeper into this topic over time but for now let us say,’’ Yoga is the union of everything around us and can be practised in everything we do in our daily lives.’’Challenge yourself today, every time you think of it, detach your mind from your conscious thinking, let go of the past and future and look at what you are really doing, look at yourself and just be present……………even if only for a moment. Make space for this in your daily routine and you will soon start to experience a greater sense of achievement, fulfilment and eventually enlightenment.
Ashram life can only be described as basic to say the least. We have everything we need here but luxuries are few and far between. We are fortunate enough to have access to hot water which we could say is our luxury. Many Ashrams in India are not equipped with facilities for hot water.
Our day starts with waking up at 5am before resuming classes for meditation, asana, silent walking, shat kriya, yoga nidra, philosophy, anatomy and chanting. Meal times are at 9:30am and 6pm, lights out at 9pm. That is our regimented day for the whole time we stay in the Ashram.
We have one rest day per week, Thursday. This day can be spent however we please, some choose to stay in the Ashram and others choose to enter into the chaos of Indian streets and markets. We do have a small boutique here in the Ashram which contains all daily essential items. I choose hit the streets in style, immerging fully into the chaos which never ceases to amaze me! More about that experience later.
Food here in the Ashram is traditional Indian vegetarian meals consisting of rice, daal, vegetables, chapattis and salad made with cucumber, beetroot, tomatoes and radishes. Occasionally a sweet or salty milk/rialta is served up which can only be described as ‘Chef’s Special’. We love it and he knows it! Manojji is proud of his food and he loves nothing more than empty pots! I guess empty pots are a top score on his one of two key performance indicators. His second KPI of following our instructions of no salt and oil don’t score so high however.
Despite the basic accommodation and regimented lifestyle we are amongst tranquil and serene settings bringing us closer to nature and allowing for deeper self reflection. With only the sound of birds chirping, trees rustling and the occasional belts of thunder to be heard higher up in the mountains it makes for the perfect atmosphere for letting go of any tensions and fully immerging into a Yogic lifestyle of integrating the mind, body and soul to reach optimum health, happiness and freedom.
Thank you Noosa for a “Great Yogic Summer”
Mid December 2014, after spending the last year in India I found myself washed up on the shores of the breath taking Sunshine Coast, Queensland. I was about to embark on a journey that had been in the planning for over six months. I arrived with a mound of luggage which was quite literally a true reflection of my life over the past year, baggy trousers, spices, lentils, dry fruits, incense, singing bowls, essential oils, mats, belts, books, more books and even more books. How I managed to get through Chennai International Airport with so much luggage, I’ll never know. Maybe a foreign women travelling alone in India does come with some advantages after all, it’s only taken me one year find one ;-). Even more astounding however, how did I get all this through the regimented and worldly renowned ‘strict’ Australian Customs Control? Everything was declared and not even checked, wow! Perhaps I’m being looked after by the powers of the universe, never the less, there I was, starting another chapter with what appeared to be a flawless beginning.
First stop was Noosa Shire Council to pay for the already submitted permit application. Within a few days the accepted application and permit found its way to my inbox. Once again, flawless!
With Christmas only a few days away and family arriving intermittently I barley had a chance to think any further about my surroundings and starting classes.
Once the craziness of Christmas was over the anxiety of how I was going to start was starting to kick in. Thoughts like, nobody knows me, how will people know I am here?, will the Aussies like my classes? I guess these are all feelings and thoughts that consume our minds when we are starting new adventures. Throughout our lives we experience these feelings which I believe come from wanting to do the best we can and give the best we can. Overcoming these should be easy for a Yogi, right? Just ‘meditate’ and’ breathe’ I hear you say. Well we do practise meditation and we do practise conscious breathing, which gives us the physical, mental and emotional space to deal with our anxieties but that doesn’t mean they are not there or that they just disappear. So after ‘meditating’ and’ breathing’ I decided to ‘JUST DO IT’. Let’s throw some flyers at the hotels, shops, cafes and bars and see what happens. After all, I’ve just arrived at this breath taking place. I’m alsogoing to make time to consume and enjoy it.
So I did just that! Slowly I was getting enquiries and starting to build a student base, this took time and was certainly challenging and I have no doubt that it will be a continuous challenge for as long as I teach and work for myself. That challenge is something that I hadn’t really prepared for, however a few months on that anxiety is a hurdle I have now overcome. What it really comes down to, is me, teaching from the heart with compassion and respect, for both myself and my students, and I get back from that the energy that allows me to wake up and do it again and again. In a nutshell, the energy shared between each other is the greatest gift. So a massive thank you to everyone that I have a met over the last few months, every one of you have been a huge contributing factor in my energy and ability to run classes, more than words can express.
As busy Easter period drew to an end I prepared myself for a return trip to India to co-ordinate a Teachers Training Course. I will be away for approximately six weeks where I will immerse myself back into an Ashram lifestyle while my own teacher and I will guide a group of new students through a journey of self-discovery. They will experience a true Yogic lifestyle for one month where their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual journeys will flourish.
You are all welcome to follow me through this blog where I will post many yogic teachings as well as continuing to express my own journey about where I’ve come from and where I’m heading. I will also endeavour to reply to any questions and comments.
Finally, I love being back here in India, the mother land, which will always hold place in my heart. My path will be never ending here. In the same breath, I can’t wait to return to the Sunshine Coast.
See you soon